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Attorneys give opening statements in trial for slaying of Ahmaud Arbery

Attorneys give opening statements in trial for slaying of Ahmaud Arbery
Ahmaud Arbery was fatally shot on February 23, 2020, while jogging near Brunswick, Ga. File Photo courtesy the Family of Ahmaud Arbery | License Photo

Nov. 5 (UPI) -- The trial of three men charged with murder in the death of Ahmaud Arbery began Friday in Georgia with opening statements and video from a body-worn police camera after the shooting.

Greg McMichael, his son, Travis McMichael, and William "Roddie" Bryan each face charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment for the shooting death of Arbery on Feb. 23, 2020, in Glynn County, Ga.

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Video footage from Bryan's vehicle showed Arbery's death as he was jogging through a Brunswick neighborhood less than 2 miles from his home. It shows Arbery, 25, being boxed in by two pickup trucks driven by the defendants. Travis McMichael then appears to get out of his vehicle and shoot Arbery three times with a shotgun.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys gave their opening statements Friday, two days after seating a jury.

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An attorney for Travis McMichael said the three men were worried about break-ins in the neighborhood and felt it was their duty to protect the area, CNN reported. He said the men had "probable cause to believe that Ahmaud Arbery was a burglar."

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"This case is about duty and responsibility," attorney Bob Rubin said.

Rubin added that Travis McMichael wasn't sure if Arbery was armed and "fired his weapon in self-defense."

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Prosecutors, meanwhile, said Arbery was terrified and running for his life as he was chased down by the three defendants, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said the defendants had no evidence Arbery committed any crime when they boxed him in with their trucks.

"Why are we here? We are because of assumptions and driveway decisions," she said. "All three of these defendants did everything they did based on assumptions. Not on facts, not on evidence. On assumptions."

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Dunikoski said footage from Bryan's dashboard camera indicated he used his truck to prevent Arbery from leaving the neighborhood.

"That's aggravated assault with a 5,000-pound lethal weapon, otherwise known as a pickup truck," she said.

After opening statements, the courtroom was shown footage from Glynn County police officer William Duggan's body-worn camera. The footage showed Duggan arriving at the scene of the shooting and turn over Arbery, who had been face-down in the road.

"The blood loss I saw at the scene, the lack of rise and fall I saw in his chest, there was nothing I could do for him," Duggan testified.

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Of the four jurors and four alternates selected for the jury in the trial, one was a person of color, which prosecutors took issue with.

The death of Arbery, who was Black, at the hands of three White men fueled months of Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 along with the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

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