Hate crimes trial in Arbery killing will put racism up front

Hate crimes trial in Arbery killing will put racism up front

The three white men sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery will soon face standing trial a second time.


BRUNSWICK, Ga. – Sentenced to life in prison for murder, the three white men who chased and killed Ahmaud Arbery will soon stand trial on federal hate crimes charges in which jurors will have to decide whether the slaying of the running Black man was motivated by racism.

The sentences imposed by a judge Friday in Glynn County Superior Court concluded the state of Georgia’s criminal case in the slaying of 25-year-old Arbery, in which a jury returned guilty verdicts the day before Thanksgiving.

A month from now, on Feb. 7, a federal judge has scheduled jury selection to begin in the three men's second trial in U.S. District Court. And evidence of racism that state prosecutors chose not to present at the murder trial is expected to be front and center.

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An indictment last year charged father and son Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan with violating Arbery’s civil rights when they pursued the running man in pickup trucks and cut off his escape from their neighborhood. Bryan recorded cellphone video of the chase’s deadly end, when Travis McMichael blasted Arbery at close range with a shotgun.

The Feb. 23, 2020, killing just outside the port city of Brunswick became part of a greater national reckoning on racial injustice when the video leaked online two months later. Though an investigator testified at a pretrial court hearing that Bryan said he heard Travis McMichael utter a racist slur as Arbery lay dying in the street, state prosecutors never presented that information to the jury during the murder case.