Prosecution rests in trial over Ahmaud Arbery's killing

Medical examiner says shotgun blast tore gaping hole in Arbery's chest and caused massive bleeding

The prosecution rested its case on Tuesday against the three white men charged with murdering Ahmaud Arbery after presenting evidence it said showed the defendants wrongly assumed the worst about a black man jogging in a mostly white southern Georgia neighbourhood.

Over eight days, prosecutors from the Cobb County district attorney's office, a suburb to the north of Atlanta, repeatedly played mobile phone video made by one of the defendants, which shows another defendant, Travis McMichael, firing a shotgun three times at Arbery, 25, at close range.

A medical examiner said the shotgun blasts that struck Arbery left a gaping hole in his chest, resulting in massive bleeding and his ultimate death, as jurors viewed autopsy photos showing Arbery's white T-shirt drenched in blood.

Dr Edmund Donoghue said Arbery was hit by two of the three shotgun rounds fired at him. He said both gunshots caused severe bleeding that killed the 25-year-old.

The first close-range gunshot tore through an artery in Arbery’s right wrist and punched a large hole in the center of his chest, said Dr Donoghue, a medical examiner for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The second shot missed entirely, while the third blast fired at point-blank range ripped through a major artery and vein near his left armpit and fractured bones in his shoulder and upper arm.

“Is there anything law enforcement or EMS could have done to save his life at the scene?” prosecutor Linda Dunikoski asked the medical examiner.

“I don’t think so, no,” Dr Donoghue replied.

Dr Donoghue performed the autopsy on February 24, 2020, the day after Arbery was killed.

Jurors were shown close-up photos of his injuries, which included several large abrasions to Arbery’s face from when he fell facedown in the street following the third gunshot.

The defence lawyers are due to present their evidence to the jury in the coming days.

Prosecutors sought to rebut arguments that the defendants were attempting a valid citizen's arrest, which required that someone have "reasonable and probable" suspicion that a person is fleeing a serious crime they committed.

They showed the jury multiple security-camera videos of Arbery walking around a half-built house on an unoccupied, unfenced property near the McMichaels' house.

They also showed police body-worn camera video of a police officer telling the McMichaels that no one knew who the young black man walking around the property was, but that nothing was ever taken on the days he was seen there.

And they had the defendants' own words to investigators read aloud in court, in which they said they did not see Arbery before he ran past their driveways and did not know what he had been doing before.

The evidence came a day after the judge refused to declare a mistrial over defence claims that jurors had been tainted when Arbery’s mother wept over evidence photos, which called attention to the presence of the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who was sitting beside her in the courtroom’s public gallery.

Defence lawyer Kevin Gough on Monday asked the judge to eject the civil rights leader from the gallery to avoid unfairly influencing jurors.

Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley said no group would be excluded from his courtroom and he described Mr Gough’s complaints as “reprehensible" after the defence argued that it did not ”want any more black pastors coming in here".

Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael armed themselves and pursued Arbery in a pick-up truck after spotting him running.

Their neighbour, William “Roddie” Bryan, joined the chase and took mobile phone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery.

Defence lawyers say the men had a right to make a citizen’s arrest of someone they suspected of stealing from the neighbourhood and that the younger Mr McMichael fired the gun in self-defence after Arbery tried to take it from him.

Prosecutors say they chased Arbery for five minutes to keep him from leaving the Satilla Shores subdivision and Arbery was trailed by Mr Bryan's truck, trying to run around the McMichaels' truck as it idled in the road ahead.

Video shows he was confronted before he was shot.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: November 16th 2021, 10:05 PM
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