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Arbery murder jury will weigh multiple charges

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Arbery murder jury will weigh multiple charges

The act before a jury in Brunswick, Ga. is not merely a matter of deciding between guilty or not guilty on a particular charge. The jurors must sort through a matrix of interlocking charges and different types of blame that depend on each other. There are some complications here.

The indictment charges the three defendants – Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William Bryan – both personally and as “related parties in the commission of the crime.” Under the law, if the jury finds that one of the men committed a felony, it can convict all of them of that crime, on the grounds that they were acting together.

The issue is particularly important to Mr. Bryan, whose lawyer has tried to distance him from the other two defendants, arguing that Mr. Bryan was just a witness to the events and that he was in fact involved in harming Ahmaud Arbery. There was no hand.

To convict on the top charge, malice, the jury would have to find that the men had intentional intent to kill, without provocation. But the other murder charges in the indictment do not depend on whether the three men meant to kill Mr Arbery.

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Defense lawyers have argued that the men were attempting to arrest a civilian, and killed Mr Arbery in self-defense. Prosecutors have argued that they had no justification for the arrest of a civilian and could not claim self-defense because they instigated the confrontation.

Apart from murder, these people are accused of four other serious offences. But each of these charges can also lead to a murder sentence.

Under Georgia law, the cause of death of a person while committing another crime is homicide, “despite the malice”—in other words, whether the death was intentional or accidental.

So if the jury members find the men guilty of any of these offences…

  • a sharp attack with a lethal weapon (gun);

  • Serious assault causing serious bodily damage (pickup truck);

  • false imprisonment (“arrest of the citizen”); Or

  • attempted false imprisonment

… and then find that Mr. Arbery died on the way, they could even blame people for the felony, without even realizing that they intended or tried to kill him.

The judge told the jury that on one count in the indictment – ​​aggravated assault involving pickup trucks – they could consider whether one of the defendants, Mr. Bryan, was guilty of a lesser charge of simple assault, reckless conduct, or No or reckless driving.

They are misdemeanors in Georgia, not a felony, so a conviction on one of the reduced charges would not expose Mr. Bryan to a felony charge in relation to that count.

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