What's next for men found guilty of Arbery murder? Possible appeal and federal hate crime trial
Ahmaud Arbery-Georgia Trial
This photo combo shows, from left, Travis McMichael, William "Roddie" Bryan, and Gregory McMichael during their trial at at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga. Jurors on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021 convicted the three white men charged in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, the Black man who was chased and fatally shot while running through their neighborhood in an attack that became part of the larger national reckoning on racial injustice. (Pool, file) AP

The three Georgia men found guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery are likely to appeal their convictions but could see even more jail time once they are tried in federal court.

An almost all-white jury on Wednesday convicted Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, in the death of Arbery, a 25-year-old black man gunned down while jogging through the McMichaels and Bryan's Satilla Shores neighborhood near the port city of Brunswick.

A nine-count indictment charged all three men with one count of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment, and one count of criminal attempt to commit a felony.


Travis McMichael was convicted of all nine charges. His father was convicted of all but malice murder. Bryan was convicted of two counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment, and one count of criminal attempt to commit a felony.

The murder convictions carry a minimum sentence of life in prison. During a sentencing hearing, which hasn't been set yet, the judge will decide if the men will get a shot at parole.

University of Georgia law professor emeritus Ron Carlson told the Associated Press one likely basis for appeal could be the exclusion of certain evidence from trial.

For example, defense attorneys wanted to introduce evidence about Arbery's criminal record, as well as reports on his mental health, and that he had been on probation when the incident took place, but Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley ruled the evidence was inadmissible.

Defense attorneys also pushed to have a use-of-force expert testify, but Walmsley ruled against that too.


"They'll argue that relevant evidence helpful to the defense was excluded by the trial judge and that was an error," Carlson said.

Regardless of how an appeal shakes out, all three defendants are still facing federal charges.

A federal grand jury indicted the men in April on hate crime charges.

Jury selection begins on Feb. 7, U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood announced.

The McMichaels and Bryan were charged with one count of interference with civil rights and attempted kidnapping. The McMichaels were also charged with using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. 

Neama Rahmani, president of the West Coast Trial Lawyers, told the Washington Examiner that the federal case "could be a little more challenging because they need to prove it was motivated by race."

"The key evidence is what Roddie Bryan did not testify to in the state case, which is that after Travis killed Ahmaud Arbery, while he's standing over his dead body he uttered the 'N' word," she said in an emailed statement. "That evidence didn't come in the state case because Roddie Bryan didn't take the stand and he wasn't subject to cross examination, so that's a Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause issue. The feds are going to have to prove that additional evidence either circumstantially because they were chasing a black man or because he has a Confederate flag, or they're going to have to give Bryan some sort of deal or immunity to have him take the stand and testify to that 'N' word to try to get the conviction against Travis and Gregory."


The McMichaels claimed they were trying to make a citizen's arrest and thought Arbery was stealing. They cornered him, and Travis McMichael shot Arbery multiple times. Bryan videotaped the incident on his cellphone. After the leaked footage went viral, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation stepped in and took over the investigation from Glynn County authorities who let weeks go by without a follow-up investigation.

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