A jury in Georgia on Tuesday found the three white men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery guilty of committing hate crimes after prosecutors made the case that they had chased down and killed Arbery because he was Black. They were also found guilty of attempted kidnapping, and two of the three — Travis McMichael and his father, Greg McMichael — were convicted on a weapons charge.
The jury in the trial deliberated for only a few hours before returning the guilty verdict against the McMichaels and William “Roddie” Bryan. All three of the defendants had already been convicted of murder in December after a state criminal trial, and all three were sentenced to life in prison in January.
The prosecution in the first trial, which presented its case in front of a mostly white jury, largely kept the issue of race in the background. But in the federal trial, jurors were presented with evidence that the defendants were racially biased. Key to the prosecution’s case was a string of social-media posts and text messages from Travis McMichael and Bryan that included racial slurs. The defendants claimed that they had gone after Arbery, whom they had seen jogging through their neighborhood, because they had wrongly suspected him of robbing homes in the area. The men pursued him in their vehicles.
Arbery’s case, which at first was largely ignored by local authorities, eventually set off national outrage when a video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery, taken by Bryan, emerged two months later.