Breaking News
More () »

9NEWS legal analyst discusses verdict in Ahmaud Arbery murder case

After the Ahmaud Arbery murder verdict, we sat down with 9NEWS Legal Analyst Whitney Traylor to get his perspective as an attorney and as a Black man.

DENVER — After 10 hours of deliberation, a jury returned guilty verdicts Wednesday for the three men charged in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia. 

Travis McMichael, his father Greg McMichael and William Bryan are now facing sentences of up to life in prison. 

While Arbery's family celebrates justice in this case, so are many others in the Black community. Many people didn't know what to expect when the verdict came down.

9NEWS reporter Darius Johnson sat down with 9NEWS legal analyst Whitney Traylor to discuss the case, the trial and what's next. 

(Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for context and clarity.) 

9NEWS: I'd love to know your initial thoughts once you saw that verdict come in.

Traylor: My initial thought was as an attorney, this was the right decision. The evidence, I think, was overwhelming. I think the jury deliberated and considered it and got it right. But also, as a person, as a Black man, I also had to reflect and say 'how is this such a nail-biter based on the evidence?'

Some people have called this almost like the 1950s: the modern-day lynching of a Black man is taking place in southern rural Georgia. You have three white men chasing a Black man with their pickup trucks and shotguns.

Traylor: I think it speaks to the egregiousness, the impunity in which they can act. And the fact that they got in the truck, it does look like a modern-day lynching. And there was still a question if they'd be convicted or not.

Let’s go back to that day. None of this would have been captured if it wasn't for William "Roddie" Bryan Jr., capturing it all on cell phone video. None of the world would’ve seen what happened that day if it wasn't for that video.

Traylor: The fact that the killing happened in February 2020 and they didn't bring charges until May, after the video came out, is very relevant. And it speaks to where we are in society. In this case, it was the video that caused them to ultimately bring the charges.

There is still a federal grand jury trial approaching to talk about the hate crime and kidnapping as well in connection to the death of Arbery. Talk to me about that, because it seems like it took another step since Georgia didn't have certain laws in place.

Note: The federal grand jury trial is expected to begin next year. The three men are facing kidnapping and hate crimes charges in connection to Arbery's death, since Georgia does not have a hate crime law.

Traylor: It is good that the federal government can come in and bring these charges and additional time as well, because the prosecution of these crimes makes a difference. When you have these crimes on the books, people are aware of it and it actually has a deterrent effect.

How does this leave you feeling to know that three white men have just been convicted of murder against a Black man who was unarmed running through a neighborhood?

Traylor: I think it was the correct verdict based on the evidence. It’s just unfortunate that we're still on pins and needles and still sort of evaluating this not just through a blind justice lens, but through a lens that's still tainted by race.

RELATED: All 3 men found guilty in death of Ahmaud Arbery

RELATED: 'He will now rest in peace' Ahmaud Arbery's parents react to jury verdict