I have been trying to follow some of the recent big trials. Finally had a chance to peek at the trial of those who killed Ahmaud Arbery. There was a similar situation as with the opening statements for the Rittenhouse case where one side was far more prepared than the other. This time, the prosecution had confidence that the evidence supports their case. They had much more to say and expressed more genuine concern than the defense. It was like night and day, two completely different worlds presenting their view of reality.
I recall a lot of confusing information being broadcast when this awful event happened. Of course, not everything we heard was accurate, so this is a good chance to clear up some things.
Regarding why Arbery was at the construction property, the prosecution does not explain. They describe him as a “lookie-loo”, someone showing up on the property uninvited, just to see what is around or something of that nature? They do not shy away from the word “prowling” when describing his behavior at the house under construction. They do not intend to defend his reason for being there. They focus on how using lethal force was completely unnecessary. They point out some of the McMichaels’s actions and words that had aspects of malice.
Arbery showed up one day at this house, looked around and then left. He does this again a few days later. Arbery then returned a third time to the house on Dec 17 in the evening. Again, no explanation is given as to why he keeps visiting.
During this period, the owner of the house, Larry English, has been observing Arbery’s and others’ unsolicited visitations, for which English has called either the police or neighbors for help, but they never follow up in a definitive way. English belatedly reported that some expensive items from his boat, regularly kept near the house, had been stolen. He was not sure if they were stolen while the boat was at the house or elsewhere, which was why he was hesitant to inform the police earlier.
On Feb 11 2020, Travis McMichaels, a neighbor and former police officer, sees Arbery at the house yet again. He and his father grab their guns. They essentially pursue him, box him in and have guns displayed during this time. Arbery tries to grab McMichaels’s gun and is subsequently shot. Much of this brief period will be under scrutiny, especially regarding how/if Arbery was being stalked and trapped.
Defense Opening Statements
The defense’s statements were much less spirited. The prosecution spoke for over an hour, for which the defense complained. There were so few points of significance in their presentation.
The defense lawyer said that the police told Larry English, the owner of the house Arbery frequented, to call Travis McMichaels, the former police officer, if he needed any more help with the property. The lawyer was wanting to give context as to why McMicheals felt deputized in some way.
The defense repeats that McMichaels assumed the worst. He thought Arbery was maybe running from another robbery, that maybe he had done something very bad. This is exactly the prosecution’s point: McMichaels assumed the worst and went straight to lethal force.
The defense notes that McMichaels had never been told that Larry English’s boat may have been burglarized at some other location. It is as though they are trying to plead ignorance as a defense: since McMichaels did not know the specific situation, he was justified in believing whatever he wanted, and acting accordingly. I was surprised by the lack of compassion for Arbery, as though him being at that house, possibly prowling, justified lethal force in a way that does not need to be explained.
These trials are tough to keep up with. I hope you all keep following and share what you are observing.