On the day of the shooting, a neighbor across the street saw Mr. Arbery in the house and called the police. Mr. Arbery left the house shortly afterwards and ran down the street. Gregory McMichael saw him and jumped into a truck with his son and gave chase. Moments later, the third defendant, Mr. Bryan, also began chasing Mr. Arbery.
During the trial, defense attorneys tried to show that the men that day were acting out of a “duty and responsibility” to detain a man they believed they had reasonable grounds to believe was a burglar. , such as Robert Rubin, a lawyer for Travis McMichael. , put it. In her closing argument, Laura D. Hogue, an attorney for Gregory McMichael, noted that Mr. Arbery had been on the property before, saying he had “become a recurring nighttime intruder — which is frightening and disturbing.”
Travis McMichael was the only defendant to take the stand. He told the court that he brought his rifle with him during the chase because his training at the US Coast Guard taught him that displaying a weapon could de-escalate a potentially violent situation.
He testified that he thought he had little choice but to shoot Mr. Arbery as soon as they came to blows. “Obviously he was attacking me, that if he had gotten the gun from me it was a life or death situation,” he said. “So I shot.”
In her final arguments, Ms. Dunikoski, the chief prosecutor, argued against the idea that an unarmed man running down the street would pose a threat to three men, two of them armed, in a pair of pickup trucks.
The men started their attack on Mr. Arbery, she said, “because he was a black man running down the street.”