Posts tagged with "murder trial"

Mel Quagrainie for use by 360 Magazine

Justice For Ahmaud Arbery

On November 24, 2021, three white men were found guilty of murdering 25-year-old unarmed Black man Ahmaud Arbery. The murder was committed by the three white men after unfounded suspicions that Mr. Arbery had been committing break-ins in their neighborhood in South Georgia.

The three defendants were Travis McMichael, 35, his father, Gregory McMicheal, 65, and William Bryan, 52, their neighbor.

Mr. Arbery lived outside of the small town of Brunswick, Georgia with his mother. He enjoyed staying in good shape and was a jogger who was often seen running in and around his neighborhood. Mr. Arbery was shot dead in a suburban neighborhood known as Satilla Shores through which he was jogging.

On Sunday, February 23, 2020, Arbery was murdered after being provoked by a white man and his son. Gregory McMichael saw Mr. Arbery running in Satilla Shores from his front porch and believed Mr. Arbery looked like a suspected man involved in numerous break-ins in the area. He then called to his son, Travis McMichael.

The police reports state that “the men grabbed a .357 Magnum handgun and shotgun, got into a pickup truck and chased Mr. Arbery, trying unsuccessfully to cut him off. A third man was also [William Bryan] involved in the pursuit.” In a recording of a 911 call that was made before the chase began, a neighbor reported a Black man was inside a house still under construction.

A video shot by William Bryan shows a struggle that preceded three shotgun blasts. The video is about a half-minute long and shows Mr. Arbery running along the two-laned suburban road when he comes upon a white truck. Travis opens the driver’s side door with a shotgun, and Greg, his father, is in the bed of the pickup truck with a handgun.

Mr. Arbery then runs out of frame, and muffled shouting is heard before Mr. Arbery appears back in the video’s view. Mr. Arbery and Travis enter view of the camera recording, fighting outside of the truck as three shotgun shots echo.

Mr. Arbery then tries to run but stumbles and falls after a few steps.

There was another video published that depicted a man walking into a house that was under construction in the same neighborhood, with him eventually running out. S. Lee Merritt, one of Mr. Arbery’s family’s lawyers, released a statement that the video does not reveal anything that was not already understood evidence. Merritt continues by explaining that Mr. Arbery was not engaging in illegal activity and did not take anything from the site.

Gregory McMichael is a former Glynn County police officer and past investigator with the local district attorney’s office.

Two months passed after the shooting, and still, no one had been arrested for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. The prosecutor for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, Jackie Johnson, recused herself from the case because of a potential conflict of interest. Gregory, one of the men involved in the shooting, had previously worked in her office.

The case was sent to George E. Barnhill, the district attorney in Waycross, Georgia, who also later recused himself from the case. This came following Mr. Arbery’s mother arguing the point that Barnhill had a point of conflict as well because his son also worked for the Brunswick district attorney. Before he was released from the case, Mr. Barnhill did write a letter to the Glynn County Police Department arguing there was not adequate probable cause to arrest the pursuers of Ahmaud Arbery.

In December, the Atlanta news station WSB attained police body camera footage from when officers arrived on February 23, including the conversations that took place immediately following the shooting. These recorded conversations show that the officers on the scene knew of Gregory’s background.

Ms. Johnson, who was voted out of her job as chief prosecutor for the area, was indicted with a charge of violating her oath. This came about from her demonstration of “favor and affection” to Gregory. There was also a charge of obstruction due to her instructions to two police officers on February 23 to not arrest Travis.

During the eventual lead prosecutor in the case, Linda Dunikoski’s, closing statement, she argued that the defendants began a pursuit after and an attack on Mr. Arbery, “because he was a Black man running down the street.” This raised her question of whether race was a leading issue in the attack. The prosecution continued to argue to the jury that Mr. Arbery posed no imminent threat to the men and that they had no reason to believe he had caused such suspected crimes, a tactic that proved effectual due to the guilty verdict by the jury.

The case and trial have been carefully followed in the United States since the earlier April conviction of white officer Derek Chauvin for the second-degree murder of George Floyd. Video from the scene depicted Chauvin kneeling on the neck of unarmed Black man George Floyd for nearly nine minutes. This video generated an international uproar, placing an emphasis on questions about the unfair treatment that minorities endure at the hands of the police in America.

The three defendants face sentences of up to life in prison for the state crimes that were committed. They had each separately been indicted on federal charges that include hate crimes and attempted kidnapping. They are expected to stand trial for those charges in February.

Mel Quargrainie for use by 360 Magazine

Rittenhouse Murder Trial Reaches The End

By: McKinley Franklin

After 24 hours of deliberations, Kyle Rittenhouse has been found not guilty on all charges. Read more about the case and Rittenhouse’s shooting on the night of August 25, 2020 at a Black Lives Matter protest HERE.

Let’s analyze the trial and how the jury came to their decision.

The Rittenhouse trial resumed once again on November 11, as the closing arguments of the case have commenced. At the top of the day, the case progressed, and Judge Bruce Schroeder dropped the sixth count that Rittenhouse faced. This sixth count accused Rittenhouse of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18. Although the prosecution objected this, Schroeder ultimately ended up dropping the charge.

Rittenhouse’s attorneys also filed for a mistrial shortly after the charge was dropped. Schroeder conveyed this news, announcing that Rittenhouse’s team had filed an official motion for mistrial, which read “The state has repeatedly violated instructions from the Court, acted in bad faith and intentionally provided technological evidence which was different from theirs. For those reasons, the defendant respectfully requests the Court find ‘prosecutorial overreaching’ existed, that overreaching was intentional and in bad faith and thereby grant the defendant’s motion for a mistrial with prejudice.”

The prosecution started their closing arguments first, having head prosecutor on the case Thomas Binger speak about Rittenhouse’s intentions of being in Kenosha. Binger urged the jury to question the intention that Rittenhouse had in Kenosha on the night of the shooting. Binger continued his argument for the prosecution by debunking the rumor that Joseph Rosenbaum, one of Rittenhouse’s two victims, threatened to kill him earlier on the night of the shooting. The prosecution highlights this to communicate to the jury that they believe Rosenbaum posed no real threat to Rittenhouse when the shooting occurred.

As the closing argument resumed, businesses in Kenosha started boarding up their storefronts amidst the final verdict of the case. 500 Wisconsin National Guard troops are reportedly on standby in Kenosha as well.

The prosecution wrapped up their final closing arguments with Binger arguing that Rittenhouse was not acting in self-defense. Binger points out that Rittenhouse killed two unarmed men and wounded another with a firearm that did not belong to him. While Binger has used several videos from the shooting as evidence to the jury, he urged the jury that Rittenhouse is guilty of all the counts against him.

Binger closes, “He committed first-degree reckless homicide against Joseph Rosenbaum. He put Richie McGinniss’s life in jeopardy. He put jump-kick-man’s life in jeopardy. He intended to kill Anthony Huber and he attempted to kill Gaige Grosskreutz. The question is whether or not you believe that his actions were legally justified, and I submit to you that no reasonable person would have done what the defendant did. And that makes your decision easy.”

The defense began their closing argument critiquing the arguments of the prosecution. Rittenhouse’s defense attorney Mark Richards argues that Rosenbaum was intentionally trying to attack the defendant and that he even had his hand on the gun. Richards asked the jury to “use your common sense and judgment” when contemplating if Rosenbaum was a real danger to Rittenhouse when the shooting occurred.

As the closing argument continued, defense attorney Richards argued that there has been a “rush to judgment” in the case. Richards pointed out that after the shooting on August 25, 2020, there were rumors circulating about the shooting and Rittenhouse’s intentions. There was talk about the fact that Rittenhouse crossed state lines to attend the protests and brought his AR-15 with him.

Richards then stated that Gaige Grosskreutz should have not provoked Kyle Rittenhouse. The defense attorney says that Grosskreutz should have “let him be and go give aid and comfort” to Rosenbaum who was just previously shot by Rittenhouse. Richards also argues that Grosskreutz was proceeding on Rittenhouse when he was shot, and this was part of the reason for him shooting.

Richards goes on with his point that Rittenhouse was not searching for trouble when he went to Kenosha despite what the prosecution argued. The defense states that Rittenhouse “feels for this community,” and that he was not trying to start conflict.” The defense soon after wrapped up their closing arguments, and the court went on break.

After returning from the break, the prosecution began their rebuttal. Attorney James Kraus argued that it was unnecessary for Rittenhouse to react to threats by using deadly force. The prosecution says that Rittenhouse should have used all other methods of self-defense before turning to shooting.

Deliberations for the Rittenhouse trial began on November 16, 2021. The panel of 18 potential jurors was narrowed down to 12, with those who were not chosen to serve as alternates. The jury consists of five men and seven women. During the first day of deliberations, the jurors made two requests for more copies of the jury instructions. The jury was dismissed on November 15 after a little over eight hours.

The second day of deliberations continued for the Rittenhouse trial again on November 17, 2021. Judge Schroeder did receive a question from the jury during the morning of November 17, asking about the reviewal process of video evidence in the case. The question was essentially if the jurors would be able to view videos in private or in the courtroom.

Schroeder also addressed the fact that he had not had a chance to read the defense’s motion for mistrial with prejudice. He explains that only one day prior to November 17 he received the motion. Schroeder continues, stating “And I really think before I rule on a motion, I should let the state respond. So why anyone would think, it is odd for the judge to sit on a motion to dismiss, I have no idea.”

Following the request of video evidence earlier during the day of November 17, this permission was granted to the jury. The jury requested a livestream video shot by Gaige Grosskreutz. The livestream was shot moments after Rittenhouse shot Joseph Rosenbaum.

Deliberations continued through November 19, and after 24 hours of deliberations, the jury found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on all charges he faced.

Judge Bruce Schroeder spoke to the jury and thanked them for their efforts, stating “”All of you – I couldn’t have asked for a better jury to work with, and it has truly been my pleasure. I think without commenting on your verdict… the verdict themselves, just in terms of your attentiveness and the cooperation that you gave to us justifies the confidence that the founders of our country placed in you.”