Ahmaud Arbery’s mother is grateful for the guilty verdicts reached in her son’s murder trial.
Wanda Cooper-Jones reflected on the outcome on Thanksgiving Day, nearly two years after Arbery was gunned down in an affluent, mostly white Georgia suburb.
”My family and I are really, really thankful for the verdict we got yesterday,” she said in an interview with “Good Morning America” on Thursday.
”We finally got justice for Ahmaud,” Cooper-Jones added.
Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was out for a jog in the Satilla Shores neighborhood just outside Brunswick when he was confronted by Gregory McMichael; his son, Travis McMichael; and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, on the afternoon of Feb. 23, 2020. Authorities said Travis and his father, who is an ex-cop, armed themselves and then pursued Arbery in a pickup truck while Bryan followed in a separate vehicle and recorded the fatal interaction.
No arrests were made until months later, after clips of the deadly encounter were leaked online.
During their eight-day trial, which came to an end this week, defense attorneys argued that the McMichaels believed the jogger was behind a string of burglaries in the area after spotting him near the construction site of a new home.
No evidence was ever uncovered linking Arbery to the crime spree and his family and friends have long maintained the killing was racially motivated.
“We know that Ahmaud was targeted because he was a Black runner in a community that thought that his presence there was inappropriate,” Cooper-Jones’ attorney, Lee Merritt, said during the interview on “GMA.”
On Wednesday, the three suspects, all of them white, were convicted by a jury in Glynn County following 11 hours of deliberation spread out over two days.
When asked what she would say to the defendants should she have the chance, Cooper-Jones offered a sympathetic response.
“I would simply tell them that their bad decisions have impacted two families — my family and again, their family.”
“Not only did the McMichaels lose a son, they lost a grandfather and they will be impacted by his grandchild,” she said. “I lost a son, but they lost three generations there.”
Travis McMichael was found guilty on all nine charges brought against him, including malice murder and four counts of felony murder. His father, meanwhile, was not convicted on the malice murder charge though he was found guilty on four counts of felony murder in addition to several others. And Bryan was convicted on six charges, including three of the felony murder counts.
All three men face up to life in prison.
The trial’s outcome was lauded by activists and citizens nationwide as well as by Cooper-Jones and Merritt, who was particularly pleased prosecutors chose to focus on the “criminal nature” of the case, rather than race.
“What I appreciated about the prosecution’s strategy was that they said Ahmaud Arbery was a citizen in the United States running on a free road, and that alone entitled him to life,” he said. “Not by virtue of any, you know, protected class that he belongs to. But we all enjoy these rights as citizens of the United States of America.”
Arbery’s mother added that she was not surprised by the jurors’ decision, but that she still could not help feeling overcome with emotion at the time it was announced.
“There’s just really no words to really explain all the emotions that I was going through at that time,” she said.
The sentencing dates have not yet been set for any of the men convicted in the case.
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