BRUNSWICK, Ga., Nov 23 (Reuters) - A Georgia jury is set on Tuesday to begin deliberating the fate of three white men who chased and killed Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who prosecutors say was out for a Sunday afternoon run.
After a two-week trial, prosecutors are slated to deliver two hours of closing arguments before the case goes to the jury.
Gregory McMichael, 65, his son Travis McMichael, 35, and their neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan, 52, have pleaded not guilty to charges including murder, aggravated assault and false imprisonment. The men said they tried to make a citizen's arrest, which was allowed under Georgia law at the time of Arbery's shooting death on Feb. 23, 2020.
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski in her summation was expected to highlight inconsistencies in testimony and initial statements to police. As well, she was likely to question the credibility of the defendants' assertions that Arbery became a threat when they tried to stop him as he ran through the mostly white Satilla Shores neighborhood near Brunswick.
"They made their decision to attack Ahmaud Arbery in their driveways because he was a Black man running down the street," she said in earlier arguments. They killed him "not because he's a threat to them, but because he wouldn't stop and talk to them."
Countering that, Laura Hogue, the elder McMichael's lawyer, said the defendants had a duty to catch Arbery, whom she painted as a frightening burglar with "long dirty toenails," using a description from the autopsy report.
The younger McMichael was the only defendant to take the stand, testifying that he fired his shotgun at close range at Arbery in self defense in what he said was the most traumatic event of his life. He said Arbery had grabbed his gun after the five-minute chase through the defendants' neighborhood.
McMichael testified that he and his father thought Arbery might have been behind recent thefts in the neighborhood. No evidence has emerged that Arbery took anything on his frequent runs through Satilla Shores.
Bryan's cellphone video of the killing sparked outrage when it emerged more than two months later and the public learned that the men involved had not been arrested.
Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley is expected to give the jury of 11 white people and one Black man a lengthy set of instructions before they start debating the evidence.
(Reporting by Rich McKay in Brunswick, Ga.; Editing by Cynthia Osterman.)