Ahmaud Arbery Murderers Convicted, Will Now Face Federal Charges
The three men accused of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery have been convicted by a Georgia jury. Travis McMichael has been convicted of malice murder, which is the highest murder count you can face in Georgia. The other two were charged with felony murder which carries a potential life sentence. All three still face hate crime charges by the federal government. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the issues at play in this prosecution.
Analyzing Georgia’s case
The Georgia prosecution avoided discussions concerning race and entirely focused on whether the three men conducted themselves legally. In this case, a Civil War-era law allowed citizens to detain other citizens if they suspected them of illegal activity. The three men claimed that they believed Arbery was casing a home under construction. They did not, however, find any stolen belongings on him nor did they find a weapon. The three men claimed that Arbery reached for a weapon when Travis McMichael shot him. The law that allowed citizens arrests has since been repealed.
There are further issues involving the first prosecutor who took the case. She is believed to have ties to the men and tanked the investigation before it was taken over by another prosecutor. She is facing charges for interfering with an investigation.
Further, the defense was able to exclude all but one Black juror. Attorneys in Georgia can exclude jurors without giving a reason or, if the exclusion is challenged, provide a pretense other than race. This is allowable in many states.
The prosecution successfully avoided issues related to race by focusing on whether or not the men conducted themselves in a lawful manner or were out looking to pick a fight with a defenseless victim. The jury believed the latter.
Analyzing the federal government’s case
The federal government usually doesn’t step in to try murder trials. This is mostly because the federal government has a limited basis for filing indictments. Felony murder can be charged in a number of situations, but that charge would come as a secondary charge to some federal law that has been violated. In this case, the fact that the defendants are charged with kidnapping and civil rights violations places the murder directly within the purview of the federal government (unlike Kyle Rittenhouse).
Facing both state and federal charges
It is rare that the federal government will try an individual who is facing state charges for the same crime, but double jeopardy does not apply across jurisdictions – meaning that they can, if they choose. In this case, they have because of the high-profile nature of the case and resurgent concerns about white supremacist factions gaining traction. During the federal trial, inflammatory arguments against the defendants will be made characterizing them as racists who committed a hateful murder for sport and reputation. In other words, this prosecution gives the government a chance to hold the men accountable for their beliefs, not just their conduct.
Talk to a Federal Defense Attorney in Tampa, Florida
If you are facing federal charges in Florida, you will need a Tampa criminal defense attorney familiar with federal law and rules of procedure. Call The Matassini Law Firm today to schedule an appointment and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.