As jurors deliberate the fate of three men in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, defense attorneys for one of them have refuted a report that his client approached prosecutors seeking a plea deal.
“That is not true,” said Attorney Kevin Gough, who represents William “Roddie” Bryan, Jr.
Bryan and the father and son team of Greg and Travis McMichael remain on trial for killing Arbery, shot and killed after jogging in a Glynn County, Georgia, neighborhood in early 2020.
Lee Merritt, a civil rights attorney representing the Arbery family, told a news outlet that Bryan sought a plea deal after the defense rested its case last week.
Prosecutors have declined to comment.
The court scheduled juror deliberations to commence earlier this week and expectations remain high that a verdict could arrive rather quickly. The three defendants face murder and civil rights charges for the death of 25-year-old Arbery.
Each man also faces separate federal hate crimes lodged by the U.S. Department of Justice. They’ve pleaded not guilty, claiming they acted in self-defense.
In February 2020, Arbery took a jog through the Glynn County neighborhood. Video later showed him stopping at a house under construction before resuming his jog. The men claimed they believed Arbery had burglarized the house but the owner has told authorities that he didn’t see the young man commit any crimes.
Arbery had been jogging when the three men confronted him, eventually shooting and killing him. The McMichael duo and Bryan claimed they had attempted to conduct a citizen’s arrest of Arbery.
After three prosecutors yielded and recused themselves, Linda Dunikoski, the Senior Assistant District Attorney at The Cobb County District Attorney’s Office, got the call to try the case.
After more than two weeks and 100 potential jurors, a panel of 12, with just one Black juror, took their seats on November 3 to hear evidence in the case.
Before closing arguments, Travis McMichael testified that his father informed him that he saw “the guy that had been breaking in down the road.”
The father and son duo hopped into their pickup truck and began a search for Arbery. Bryan soon joined them in his vehicle. McMichael testified that he parked his vehicle, trained his shotgun at Arbery and ordered him to stop. He claimed Arbery grabbed his rifle and assaulted him before McMichael shot him, contradicting video evidence.
“You’re not letting him run away. Instead, you’re pointing the shotgun at him,” Dunikoski quizzed McMichael on the stand.
McMichael countered: “I am not letting him run to me, directly to me.”
Dunikoski continued with her cross-examination of McMichael.
“You could have driven behind him and not spoken to him at all and you could have stayed in your truck?” Dunikoski asked.
McMichael responded “yes” each time.
Dunikoski also questioned McMichael about a 2019 Facebook exchange in which the individual he conversed with expressed that examples needed to be made out of somebody if they stole things.
“You said, ‘That’s right. Hope y’all catch the vermin,’” Dunikoski said.
“That’s correct,” McMichael responded.