The McMichaels filed separate motions for judgments of acquittal on all the federal charges they were convicted of last month, including the hate crime charge of interference of rights and attempted kidnapping. They claim the government did not provide sufficient evidence for the convictions.
During the federal trial, a jury found the three White men chased Arbery as he was jogging through the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Glynn County, Georgia, in February 2020 because he was Black.
The McMichaels, who were armed, were in one vehicle, while Bryan, who joined while the chase was underway, followed in his own truck, assisting in and recording the chase. Arbery was unarmed.
Defense attorneys argued the McMichaels pursued Arbery in a pickup truck to stop him for police because they suspected him of committing a crime, and that Travis McMichael shot Arbery in self-defense as they wrestled over McMichael’s shotgun.
The motion stated that the testimony only showed the neighborhood’s “developer offered to dedicate the Satilla Shores neighborhood streets to the county, but the county did not expressly or implicitly accept that offer,” according to the court documents.
The prosecution hasn’t yet filed a response with the court.
Gregory McMichael’s motion also argued prosecutors didn’t prove Arbery was running on a public street and didn’t provide sufficient evidence to convict on each of the counts.
Referring to the interference of rights conviction, Gregory McMichael’s motion claimed there was no evidence that McMichael targeted Arbery because of his race or color. The motion said there was no evidence Gregory McMichael “uttered the ‘n-word’ or other racial epithets against African Americans.”
The government “failed to supply the jury with any evidence that Defendant Gregory McMichael associated African Americans with criminality,” even though “it is true that the Government admitted evidence and testimony demonstrating that defendants Travis McMichael and William Bryan may have associated African Americans with the commission of crime,” according to the motion.
After the verdicts were issued on February 22, the men had 14 days to file post-trial motions including any appeals of their convictions, according to presiding Judge Lisa Godbey Wood. Court records do not show that Bryan has filed in any motions since the trial.
A sentencing date on the federal charges has not been set.
Following the verdict in the federal hate crimes, Arbery family attorney Ben Crump was joined by Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones and father Marcus Arbery Sr.
“Thank God for this good morning, that Wanda and Marcus have prayed for. It is because of their conviction to get full justice, not partial justice … (that) we get to celebrate this moment,” Crump told reporters.