The Three White Men Who Killed Ahmaud Arbery Ask Court To Overturn Their Hate Crime Convictions

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The three white men who killed Ahmaud Arbery are fighting to get their hate crime convictions thrown out.

In 2020, Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael along with their neighbor William Bryan chased after Arbery in pickup trucks through a Georgia subdivision before one of them shot and killed him. The three “were found guilty of murder in a Georgia state court in November 2021. They were sentenced to life in prison. After a federal trial, they were found guilty of hate crimes and other charges in February 2022,” NBC News reports.

The federal hate crimes trial mainly focused on their racial bias, one motive which the prosecutors “largely avoided” when trying the state’s case. This is because hate crimes have been notoriously hard to get convictions on due to the burden of proof on the prosecution to “prove in part that the alleged perpetrator was motivated by bias against a victim’s race, religion, sexual orientation or other characteristics.”

Attorneys for the McMichaels and Bryan have asked an appeals court to overturn their federal hate crime convictions, arguing “that their racist comments from the past did not prove racist intent to harm the 25-year-old Black man.”

On Wednesday, “[a] panel of judges from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta” heard oral arguments on this matter from the attorneys of Arbery’s killers.

Prosecutors filed a legal brief before Wednesday’s arguments, which read in part, “As to why defendants chased, trapped, and ultimately killed Arbery, the evidence at trial showed that they held longstanding hate and prejudice toward Black people, while also supporting vigilante justice.”

The evidence consisted of the men having made “racist comments online and in text messages, often using racial slurs and advocating for racist violence.”

But the “McMichaels’ lawyers argued these comments do not prove they murdered Arbery because he was Black, with Bryan’s attorney J Pete Theodocion even stating that including the messages in the trial had a ‘prejudicial effect’ on the jury,” per The Independent.

Even if they do win this appeal to overturn their hate crime convictions, the three men will still have to finish out their lives in jail, because of the fact that “they are already serving life sentences for” Arbery’s murder.

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