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November 24, 2021 Ahmaud Arbery trial and verdict news

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8:56 p.m. ET, November 24, 2021

Arbery's aunt supports life without parole for all 3 men convicted of murdering her nephew

From CNN's Leinz Vales

Theawanza Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery's aunt, said Wednesday that she was pleased that the three men convicted of murdering her nephew may serve "life-without-parole."

"They'll get the same treatment that we have, knowing that Ahmaud will never come home again, so they shouldn't be able to go home either," she said.

Travis McMichael, who shot and killed Arbery, his father, Gregory McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan Jr. were found guilty Wednesday.

Judge Timothy Walmsley did not schedule sentencing today but said he plans to set a date in the coming weeks.

7:24 p.m. ET, November 24, 2021

Despite nearly all-White jury, prosecutors in murder trial felt jury would make the right decision

From CNN's Chris Boyette

Paul Camarillo, Linda Dunikoski and Larissa Ollivierre (CNN)

The jury in the trial of three men for the death of Ahmed Arbery was made up of 11 White people and one Black person, but prosecutors told CNN that they felt that when the jury heard their arguments, they would make the decision to find all three guilty, which they did.

"I was hopeful based on the evidence that we presented in the case that we put forth that the jury would see the truth of what actually took place and bring justice for the Arbery family," Cobb County senior assistant district attorney Linda Dunikoski said. "After we picked the jury, we looked at them and realized that we had very, very smart, very intelligent, honest jurors who were going to do their job which is to seek the truth. And so, we felt that putting up our case, it doesn't matter whether they were black or white, that putting up our case that this jury would hear the truth, they would see the evidence and that they would do the right thing and come back with the correct verdict which we felt they did today."

One main goal for prosecutors Paul Camarillo, Cobb County senior assistant district attorney, said was to simply show that the defendant's claim of self-defense, simply wasn't a viable argument.

"We had to show that it did not apply in this case and if they could not get past that hurdle, they never could get to self-defense," Camarillo said.

Larissa Ollivierre, Cobb County assistant district attorney, said she felt bad for Arbery's parents when one defense attorney began talking about Arbery's toenails.

"I think the comments were unnecessary and they were low. and I just feel bad that Ahmad's mom dad and had to sit there and listen to all of those things," Ollivierre said.

Dunikoski said defense attorney Kevin Gough's comments about Black pastors-- though made without the jury present — was strategic.

"Mr. Gough is a very, very good attorney, and he purposefully and intentionally and strategically, I believe, did what did he in an effort to attempt to insert potentially some error into the case in case he lost the case and it went up on appeal," she said

6:46 p.m. ET, November 24, 2021

Attorney for William "Roddie" Bryan Jr. says he plans to appeal

From CNN's Alta Spells and Devon M. Sayers

The attorney for William "Roddie" Bryan Jr. said he plans to appeal after his client was convicted in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.

"Anybody in that position would be disappointed, would be hurt, would be shocked," said Kevin Gough, Bryan's defense attorney, after he was convicted of murder and other charges in the death of Arbery. 

"Here he is, he does everything he's supposed to do, he's fully cooperating, he's done everything that he can and now he's looking at spending the rest of his life in prison," the attorney continued as he spoke to members of the media Wednesday afternoon. 

Travis McMichael, who shot Arbery, and his father, Gregory McMichael, were also found guilty of murder and other charges. The three defendants are White, Arbery was Black.

Gough said he planned to appeal the decision regarding his client, noting, "We believe the appellate courts will reverse this conviction."

Gough was doubtful about the possibility of parole for Bryan. 

"At his age, 25 years before parole eligibility? I don't think parole is even something he's going to be worrying about right now," Gough said.

CNN's Christina Maxouris contributed to this report.

6:08 p.m. ET, November 24, 2021

Ahmaud Arbery's mother: "Today was a very good day"

From CNN's Chris Boyette

(CNN)

Wanda Cooper-Jones, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, told CNN that her prayers had been answered and that "today was a very good day," after three men were found guilty in her son's killing.

"To hear that the accused murderers were actually found guilty, I mean, that was huge. We finally got the justice for Ahmaud that he deserved back in 2020," she said.

Cooper-Jones also discussed thoughts she had about other mothers who were in her circumstance seeking justice for their children.

"My message to these families is don't give up, keep pushing, keep fighting," Cooper-Jones said.

Lee Merritt, an attorney for Cooper-Jones, said they are looking forward to the federal prosecution of the men found guilty Wednesday in Georgia.

Merritt said he agreed with Martin Luther King Jr.'s sentiment that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice, but not on its own.

"The moral arc is long and I agree that it does bend toward justice but it doesn't bend on its own," Merritt said. "It takes fight being mothers like the one I'm sitting next to that I have the real honor and privilege to represent."

5:46 p.m. ET, November 24, 2021

Murder trial verdict was based on facts and evidence, lead prosecutor says

From CNN's Alta Spells and Devon M. Sayers

Lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski is applauded while speaking outside the Glynn County Courthouse on Wednesday. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said spoke about the verdict today, saying "When you present the truth to people and they can see it, they will do the right thing and that's what this jury did today in getting justice for Ahmaud Arbery,"  

Dunikoski, who is a Cobb County senior assistant district attorney, successfully prosecuted the cases of Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael and their neighbor William R. Bryan.

All three men were convicted Wednesday of chasing and murdering Arbery, a 25-year-old Black jogger who was running in their neighborhood.

"The verdict today was a verdict based on the facts, based on the evidence and that was our goal, was to bring that to that jury so that they could do the right thing," said Dunikoski, adding, "the jury system works in this country."

She also thanked her trial partners, calling it "a gigantic team effort." 

4:42 p.m. ET, November 24, 2021

Georgia senator says a "historic civil rights mobilization" was needed for the killers to face prosecution

Sen. Jon Ossoff speaks in September. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Sen. Jon Ossoff, of Georgia, extended his condolences to the Arbery family and insisted that "further investigation is necessary to determine how and why officials initially refused to pursue the case" into the three men found guilty Wednesday.

"I extend again my deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the Arbery family and my gratitude to the jury and court for their service," Ossoff said in a statement. "Ahmaud Arbery was a young man whose life was stolen from him, from his family, from the many who knew and loved him, and from the countless lives he would have touched in decades to come."

Ossoff added: "Ahmaud Arbery's murderers will be held accountable, but a historic civil rights mobilization was necessary for the killers to face prosecution at all. There was nearly impunity for this murder, and further investigation is necessary to determine how and why officials initially refused to pursue the case. The circumstances of Ahmaud Arbery's murder and the struggle required to secure a prosecution demonstrate profoundly the urgency of reforms to make equal justice real in America."

Earlier today: In the same vein, Rev. Al Sharpton praised "White and Black activists" alike for their support during the trial and helping to raise awareness.

"All of us, this is a day White and Black activists showed we could unite and beat the lynch mob that killed Ahmaud," Sharpton said in front of the courthouse Wednesday afternoon. "And though I never say this often, I must say, we want to thank the prosecutors. They stood and fought for this family."
4:19 p.m. ET, November 24, 2021

The jury found that Travis McMichael intended to kill Ahmaud Arbery, legal expert says

From CNN's Mike Hayes

Travis McMichael looks back at his mother and sister in the courtroom after the jury convicted him for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery on Wednesday. (Stephen B. Morton/Pool/AP)

All three defendants were convicted of felony murder, but only Travis McMichael, the man who shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery, was convicted of the top charge, malice murder.

Georgia criminal defense attorney Page Pate told CNN this decision by the jury made sense to him.

"In Georgia, malice murder, you have an intent to kill someone. Felony murder is you don't necessarily want to kill someone but you're committing a felony offense and someone dies as a result of it," Pate said.

He said the verdict shows "it was careful deliberation" by the jury in the case. 

"Let's put the facts together with the law and come up with what we feel is the right verdict, and I think it was the right verdict for this case," Pate said.

5:44 p.m. ET, November 24, 2021

Vice President Harris says Ahmaud Arbery's "life had meaning"

The guilty verdicts for all three men charged in killing Ahmaud Arbery last year send "an important message," Vice President Kamala Harris said in a statement this afternoon.

"Today, the jury rendered its verdicts and the three defendants were found guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery," the statement said. "Still, we feel the weight of grief. Ahmaud Arbery should be alive, and nothing can take away the pain that his mother Wanda Cooper-Jones, his father Marcus Arbery, and the entire Arbery family and community feel today. I share in that pain."

Harris added: "These verdicts send an important message, but the fact remains that we still have work to do. The defense counsel chose to set a tone that cast the attendance of ministers at the trial as intimidation and dehumanized a young Black man with racist tropes. The jury arrived at its verdicts despite these tactics. Ahmaud Arbery was a son. He was a brother. He was a friend. His life had meaning. We will not forget him. We honor him best by continuing the fight for justice."

Earlier today: Travis McMichael, who shot and killed Arbery, was convicted on all nine counts against him. Five of the counts — malice murder and four counts of felony murder — carry a possible life sentence.

His father, Gregory McMichael, was found guilty of all but the first count — malice murder. He faces possible life in prison for the four counts of felony murder that he was convicted of.

The third defendant, William "Roddie" Bryan Jr., was convicted on six of the nine charges. He was found not guilty of malice murder, not guilty on one of the felony murder counts and not guilty of aggravated assault with a firearm. But Bryan could still be sentenced to life in prison since he was convicted on three of the felony murders counts.

3:45 p.m. ET, November 24, 2021

Defense attorney for man convicted of murder in Ahmaud Arbery's death plans to appeal guilty verdict

From CNN's Leinz Vales

(CNN)

Jason Sheffield — an attorney for Travis McMichael, one of three convicted of murder in the death of Ahmaud Arbery — said he is planning to appeal the jury's guilty verdict.

"This is a very difficult day for Travis McMichael and Greg McMichael," Sheffield said outside the Brunswick, Georgia, courthouse. "These are two men who honestly believed that what they were doing was the right thing to do. However, a Glynn County jury has spoken. They have found them guilty. They will be sentenced."

Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan Jr. were found guilty of murder in Arbery's death. Each faces the possibility of life in prison.

"That is a very disappointing and sad verdict for myself and for Bob and for our team, but we also recognize that this is a day of celebration for the Arbery family," Sheffield added. "We cannot tear our eyes away from the way they feel about this. They feel they have gotten justice today. We respect that. We honor that. Because we honor this jury trial system."

Defense attorneys speak outside the courthouse:

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