Prosecutors blasted the three white men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery for making “assumptions” that cost the unarmed black jogger his life as opening statements got underway in the murder trial Friday.
Greg McMichael, 65, his son Travis, 35, and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, are charged with murder and other felony offenses after spotting Arbery, 25, running through their neighborhood just outside the Georgia port city of Brunswick on Feb. 23, 2020.
“In this case, all three of these defendants did everything they did based on assumptions. Not on facts, not on evidence — on assumptions,” Senior Assistant District Attorney Linda Dunikoski told the jurors.
“And they made decisions in their driveways based on those assumptions that took a young man’s life and that is why we are here today.”
The three men accused Arbery of being a burglar before the younger McMichael fatally shot him at close range.
The defense is expected to argue that the men were trying to make a citizen’s arrest and the attack was protected under the state’s self-defense laws.
The panel, which has only one black juror, was seated in the case after a more than two-week selection process.
Prosecutors had argued that the defense attorneys had struck eight potential jurors from the final panel because they are black, which the US Supreme Court has deemed unconstitutional.
Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley agreed there appeared to be “intentional discrimination,” but said state law limited his ability to change the jury’s racial makeup because defense attorneys were able to give nonracial reasons for their decisions.
Arbery had been dead for more than two months before the McMichaels and Bryan were charged last year.
The trial is expected to last two weeks or more.
If the men are acquitted of the charges, they still face federal hate crime charges in a trial that is expected to start Feb. 7.
With Post wires