BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The murder trial for the three white men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery went into its ninth day of testimony with the defense trying to toss out charges.
On Wednesday, defense lawyers for father and son duo Gregory and Travis McMichael and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, spent much of the morning trying to prove some of the charges the men face were not relevant to the case or to each defendant.
They spent two hours arguing a motion for a directive verdict for all charges in the case. That's when a judge enters a ruling that there isn't an evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to reach a different conclusion.
The three men are facing charges of malice murder, felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment in connection with the death of Arbery.
"What we're facing then is a complete lack of a causal link," Franklin Hogue, Greg McMichael’s attorney said on behalf of the father and son pair.
Hogue largely argued that the charges were intertwined and dependent on proving another, making it difficult for some to stand alone in front of the jury. He also said that the pick-up trucks should not be factored in the case as weapons or accessories used to hurt, try to hurt or trap Arbery.
"How one can be falsely imprisoned when the case agent is testifying under oath that he (Arbery) could've run, kept on running," Hogue said.
Prosecutors responded to the team of attorneys saying each man is being charged as “party to the crime,” emphasizing their case that each person played a role even though only one person, allegedly Travis McMichael, fired the fatal shots.
“Mr. Arbery ran away from these men for five minutes,” Linda Dunikoski, the lead prosecutor in the case and a senior assistant district attorney in the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office said. “The video spoke for itself.”
The State of Georgia rested its case Tuesday after calling the medical examiner to the stand and GBI investigators to provide maps showcasing Arbery’s jogging route on Feb. 23, 2020, the day the 25-year-old died. Witnesses also analyzed maps for the jury highlighting Bryan’s path and the route McMichaels took in pursuing Arbery.
Dunikoski alluded to the witness testimony during her argument Wednesday morning.
“All he did was try to get away,” she said about Arbery’s and reiterated McMichael’s words from earlier evidence presented in the trial, “he was trapped like a rat.”
Dunikoski said what Arbery chose to do is not relevant – it’s the defendant’s actions that are on trial.
“The defense is going to argue it’s the victim’s fault – he should have kept running,” she said. “But that’s not what the law is.”
The prosecutor said the trial is to determine how the actions of those men contributed to Arbery's death.
“Without those four felonies, Mr. Arbery wouldn’t be dead," she said.
That's for the jury to decide, Dunikoski said.
The judge ultimately agreed, denying the motion. The charges still stand in front of the jury.