The three men, a father and son, Gregory McMichael, 65, and Travis McMichael, 35, and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., 52, are charged in the death of Arbery, who was fatally shot on a residential street on Feb. 23 last year as he ran through a small Georgia neighborhood.
The trio were arrested in connection with his death after video footage of the incident emerged on May 5, 2020. They have pleaded not guilty to charges including murder, aggravated assault, and false imprisonment for the killing in the coastal suburb of Satilla Shores.
Jurors—11 white men and women and one black man—are now weighing evidence from the more than two dozen witnesses called since the panel was sworn in two weeks ago. These included the younger McMichael, the only defendant to take the witness stand, who said he fired his shotgun at Arbery in self-defense.
The jurors worked through lunch as they deliberated then asked to break for the night soon after 6 p.m. ET. The judge said they would resume on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. ET.
The lead prosecutor, in response to closing arguments earlier, said the encounter with Arbery was initiated by the defendants, and so they couldn’t argue that they acted in self-defense.
“All three of these defendants made assumptions, made assumptions about what was going on that day,” Dunikoski said. “You can’t claim self-defense if you are the unjustified, initial aggressor. This isn’t the Wild West.”
Meanwhile, the elder McMichael’s lawyer, Laura Hogue, said during closing arguments on Monday that the defendants had a duty to catch Arbery, whom she painted as a frightening burglar with “long dirty toenails,” using a description from the autopsy report.
“There’s no question that Ahmaud’s hands are on this gun,” Jason Sheffield, one of McMichael’s lawyers, said in his closing argument. “You are allowed to defend yourself. You are allowed to use force that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury if you believe it’s necessary. At that moment, Travis believed it is necessary.”
The defendants have also argued that they had a right to detain Arbery under Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law, which was repealed in a unanimous vote by state lawmakers amid public outcry over Arbery’s death.
Speaking outside the courthouse after Dunikoski finished her rebuttal, Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, said “We will get justice for Ahmaud.”
“She presented that evidence again very well,” said Cooper-Jones, NPR reported. “I do think that we will come back with a guilty verdict, and I want to leave with this: God has brought us this far, and he’s not gonna fail us now.”
Reuters contributed to this report.