Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Prosecutors Deliver Final Rebuttal in Arbery Murder Trial. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired November 23, 2021 - 10:00   ET



LINDA DUNIKOSKI, PROSECUTOR: He's still underneath there. There comes somebody with a truck. He's right there. There comes Greg McMichael, he comes around. He gets in. Then Mr. Albenze starts walking down the street. Truck pulls out. There goes his arm. There goes his arm. Where is the truck? Already pulled out, already pulled out and heading down the street.

All right, should you trust the statements of Travis McMichael? Well, let's go ahead and first take a look at this. He told you he's not going to chase or investigate someone who is armed, and yet all he talked about was, he kept reaching into his pants. He kept reaching into his pocket. Well, did you think he was armed or not?

Then what did he tell you? This is what I was thinking. Mr. Arbery may have run by. Maybe Matt had seen him. Maybe he has broken in. Maybe Larry English is over at 220. I don't know. Maybe Ahmaud Arbery was caught. Maybe Ahmaud Arbery was running from the police. These are all maybes. He doesn't know anything. These are all the maybes he testified to.

He said he assumed he was committing a crime. That's what he said on the stand. Remember? I wrote it out. You said you assumed he was committing a crime. I went down there to see if it was him. Then he said, I don't know. I don't know what he did that day. I don't know.

Then he wanted to talk about his totality of the circumstances and all that stuff that he knew that was going to allow him to do the citizen's arrest. What did he talk about? Well, I heard from my mom about the stuff stolen off the boat. Okay. Well, can't arrest somebody on unsupported gossip of someone else, can't do that.

And then I saw him inside the house and I knew he was in there a couple other days because I seen video on February -- on February 11th, saw these videos. Okay, well, that's not having committed a crime in somebody's presence. This is somebody showing you some stuff later.

And then he knew about the white couple. Oh, yes, he knew there were other suspects for stealing the stuff and others suspects who have gone in the house, the white couple, okay? And then he also said, well, yes, then there was the shady looking guy under the bridge. He was also kind of a suspect. He said, I want to talk to you. I want to talk to you. What happened down the road? I was ordering him to stop. What gives you the right to order Ahmaud Arbery to stop?

My impression was that he could be a threat, because who knows what can happen? Oh, my God, self-defense. You have to think you're in imminent danger of receiving serious bodily harm or death. It's really happening. I'm about to die. My impression was that he could be a threat. Yes. Who knows what could happen. He said that on the stand.

All right, so what else have we got? If Greg called 911, he still would have been on the phone with 911. We know that. That's how 911 works. They stay on the phone with you. He knew he wasn't on the phone with 911. He told you he didn't know what his father was saying to Ahmaud. Really? Does anybody believe that, that he was in the car with his dad but he has no idea what it was that his father was actually saying to Ahmaud as well as what he was saying?

Now, what did he talk about? He talked about that like continuum of the use of force and blah, blah, blah. Level two is commands. Okay. I'm sorry. How do police officers command people to do stuff? How do they usually do that? Because police officers, are they yelling at you or are they politely saying stuff to you and they're commanding you to do things? Do you believe for a minute he was talking softly to Ahmaud Arbery? What's going on?


What are you doing? Please stop running. Do you really believe that for one minute?

I'm going to ask you another question. Do you think this Travis McMichael who took the stand was the same Travis McMichael from February 23rd? Do you think they are the person? Or do you think this is trial preparation?

What tone of voice do we have being used by the McMichaels?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 911. What's the address of your emergency?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm out here at Satilla Shores. There's a black male running down the street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where at Satilla Shores?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know what street we're on. Stop right there. Stop.


DUNIKOSKI: Ask yourself was that the tone of voice being used? Well, yes, we know it was. He just said, stop, goddamn it, stop, to Mr. Arbery in that tone of voice.

All right, use of force continuum, presence, did not have -- no badge, no uniform, no authority, just some strange guys in a white pickup truck, strangers. Verbal commands, they don't have any authority to use verbal commands. This is a fellow citizen. It's another human being. They're pulling up on him and they're commanding that he stop and talk to them. And then, of course, he skipped level three, level four, level five, and went right to deadly force. Boom, someone is dead.

Claims he didn't cut off Ahmaud on Burford, did not get out with his shotgun. I don't know. Do you believe any of that? Told police he got out of his car on Holmes a few houses down and yelled at Ahmaud to stop. Now, he says that didn't happen. And his convenient excuse was, I was really confused.

What did he say the Coast Guard goals were, to not escalate but to keep everyone calm and cool. You don't want anything to escalate. But then he tells, oh, but you pull out a shotgun and point it at someone to de-escalate a situation. What are you talking about? Does this logic make any sense to anybody?

Travis McMichael never said to the police, I was making an arrest, I was trying to arrest him for the crime of this? Wouldn't that be really, really important? Hey, I was trying to effectuate a citizen's arrest for this crime that I know he committed. Wouldn't that be something you tell the police? Never once. Never told Mr. Arbery he was under arrest. Never said, I saw him commit the crime of blank today, because he didn't. He was sitting on his sofa. Never said, I was afraid he was going to hurt my dad or pull him down, never even mentioned being afraid for his dad, not once. Anything about the English's boat or anything being stolen from 2/20, never mentioned it, never talked about it. 2 hour and 45-minute interview, doesn't talk about any of this stuff.

Assume the worst. Here's what he did. So, he stopped, and I said, hey, I just want to talk to you, you know, where are you running from, where are you going? This is what he says, he said. He's asking Ahmaud about what he was doing that day, that day. Because he didn't know what he'd done that day but he assumed the worst, he must have committed some crime. What's your emergency? There's a black man running down the street. What did Agent Seacrist tell you, the GBI agent? I can't compel anyone to speak to me. They knew better, just like Agent Seacrist knows. I can't compel anybody to talk to me.

All right, let's go ahead and talk about Defendant Bryan. 307 Burford, you've seen this night owl video. I'm not playing it for you again. It's motion-activated on the porch. Travis McMichael's white 150 pickup truck comes in front, driveway decision. And this is important, ladies and gentlemen. This is really important. You all got it? Why is this important? What does this say? Mr. Bryan, from his porch, can tell that they are chasing and trying to falsely imprison, stop, confine Mr. Arbery. He can tell it from his porch. He knows exactly what they're doing. You all got him? He knows what they're doing. And you know what he chooses to do? His independent, independent, own decision, I'm going to go join them to try and stop this guy, confine and detain him.


He just joins in and starts helping.

His driveway decision, that is what being a party to the crime is. You go to help some people who are committing some crimes, trying to stop this guy and detain him and confine him. He joined in. You all got him? He knew exactly what the McMichaels were doing.

What did Mr. Bryan tell you? So, I just kind of sat there for a minute and didn't really know what to do, and then he was trucking. So, I mean, he closed in on me quick. And as soon as he got up to me, I overshot the road. I was kind of angled. I overshot the road and forced him to go down into the ditch right there. Aggravated assault with a pickup truck on Mr. Bryan's verdict form, check.

And I angled my truck at him again. I think he kind of turned around. I missed him or whatever. I missed him. He was intending to hit him. I missed him. I mean, when you say, well, I missed him, what does that mean you were trying to do? You were trying to hit this person.

Then at the scene, he tells Officer Minshew, one time, when I cornered him up over here on Burford, he was trying to get in my truck. He tried to get in my door. Okay, trying to get in his door. Or, Mr. Bryan, did you get so close to Mr. Arbery that Mr. Arbery had to push off from your truck leaving white fragments from his T-shirt and his palm print on your truck? Because you got so close to hitting him, he had to push off to get away from you?

I mean, I can't say for sure that he wasn't on the door. I didn't give him a chance to get to the door. But after I angled him off the side of the road, you know, and I kind of went on past him, because I didn't hit him, wish I would have, might have took him out and not got him shot, but, you know, I probably got past him a little bit, and he comes up on me and I could see him my mirror and he was coming to my door and I see his hands right behind the door. After I angled him off to the side of the road, I kind of went on past him. I didn't give him a chance to get to the door.

Yes, towards the entrance, towards the entrance. But I confronted him again. I angled at him again. We're now at aggravated assault number three. Before we got to the road he was lying on, right at that house, he was on left-hand side, you're heading towards the entrance of the neighborhood. So, he confronted him once again at that corner of Holmes and Satilla. I was fixing, I put it in reverse and was going to back up at him, and that's when he made his move to go down the road and happened on.

Felony murder right there, felony murder for criminal attempt of false imprisonment, felony murder for aggravated assault with a pickup truck. Mr. Bryan kept Mr. Arbery from running down Satilla Drive and out of Satilla Shores and redirected him up Holmes. But for those actions, Mr. Arbery would be alive, played a necessary and substantial part in the death of Mr. Arbery.

All right, so I backed up and started going down that way. I think I angled at him again, kind of forced him off the road or something right in here, and he turned around, turned around right here. The black guy did. He turned around maybe down this far, so he turned around and started running back the other way, and I pulled into a drive or something and started to turn around, fourth aggravated assault with a pickup truck. There's his route, there's the McMichael route and here it is all together.

So, once again, ladies and gentlemen, the indictment, how in the world could Defendant Bryan be responsible for using his Silverado filming the murder at the time, Travis McMichael murdered Ahmaud Arbery, how can I be held responsible? Okay, it's real simple, party to a crime.

The law does, in Georgia, believe that everybody to who helped, encouraged, advised, went inside a house and grabbed their son and told him to get his shotgun and come on, they're all equally responsible for the ultimate death of the victim, because a person is a party to a crime only if that person directly commits the crime. Travis McMichael pulling the trigger on the shotgun, helps in the commission of the crime, who wouldn't be able to do that if not for his father and if not if Mr. Bryan.

Intentionally advises and encourages, that's what Greg McMichael was doing. Cut him off, cut him off, go this way, no, I'm going to go that way. What are they doing in the truck? They're working together, Greg and Travis McMichael. That's why they're both responsible. Laura Hogue got up here and said Greg McMichael is not a murderer. Yes, he is. Greg McMichael is just as big a murderer as Travis McMichael is because he's a party to this crime, okay?


When three people chase an unarmed man in two pickup trucks with guns in order to violate his personal liberty, who gets to claim I'm not really responsible for that? Under the law in Georgia, no one gets to say that. Everybody is responsible.

All right, how? All right, I'm going to give you an example. This is just an illustration, just to make a point, okay. Four men drive to a bank to commit an armed robbery, all right? You got the driver that never gets out of the car, you got the lookout that stands outside, you got a guy who goes in without a gun and you got a guy who goes in the bank and shoots the guard, all right?

So, who's guilty? Under the law in Georgia, all of them are responsible for aggravated assault for shooting the guard and armed robbery for trying to rob the bank or robbing the bank, all right? Because they committed the crime or helped in the commission of the crime or they advised and encouraged someone to commit the crime.

And, of course, you're saying, but, Linda, only one person had their finger on the trigger in this case, and that was Travis McMichael. So, how do we find Greg McMichael and William Roddie Bryan guilty of malice murder? Well, under the law in Georgia, it's as if they were all holding the gun together. And in this example, the guy who never got out of the car who is the getaway driver is just as guilty. In this example, the guy who got out of the car and just stood at the front of the bank is just as guilty, party to a crime.

So, under the law, all are involved. Why? Well, Greg McMichael, he was seeking to confront Ahmaud Arbery. He was encouraging Travis McMichael to come with him, encouraging Travis to cut him off. Greg McMichael threatened Ahmaud to get him to stop, okay? We would not be here if it weren't for Greg McMichael. Travis McMichael, without Travis McMichael deciding to actually take his shotgun and help his dad, he could have told his dad, we're not doing this, calm down, call the police.

There's a whole bunch of decisions both of them could have made that would never have resulted in Ahmaud Arbery's death. He decided he's going to drive his pickup truck to chase Ahmaud, and he got out of that truck with that shotgun, totally and absolutely unnecessarily.

Mr. Bryan, who decided to help the McMichaels, without Bryan, who then assaulted Arbery in his pickup truck in an effort to falsely imprison him on Burford without him redirecting him on to Holmes, without Bryan chasing Ahmaud toward Travis McMichael, we wouldn't be here, because Ahmaud Arbery would not be dead. It doesn't matter who actually pulled the trigger. Under the law, they're all guilty of malice murder.

All right, let's take a look at the crime scene. Of note, Ahmaud Arbery had nothing on him, no bag, no backpack, no burglary, no cell phone, no I.D., no wallet, no keys, no gun, no weapon, nothing. I'm going to show you some crime scene photos.

So, what do we have? Take a look at this. This is what's important in this picture. These pants are so baggy. Look at this. Look how baggy they are. Look where his belt is. He's running like this. There's no way they believe he had a gun on him, absolutely no way.

Mr. Arbery was shot first in the torso and through the wrist, all right? He was shot this way where it came out this way. So, what's he doing? He's coming around that corner, here it is, here it is, his wrist gets shot. There's no way he struck Travis McMichael. There's no way he's hitting him.

All right, we don't know. Did he grab the end of the shotgun? Did he try and push it away? Who knows? But we do know is it happened like this and Travis McMichael fired. They struggled over the gun. Yes, then they're struggling over the gun, two more gunshots and he gets shot under his left armpit. I am going to show you the crime scene photos.

So, what do we have? Why do we know he got shot in the wrist, because of the blood spatter, the arterial spurt, remember? Okay. Why is there blood here in the road in this driveway? From the arterial spurt from the wrist. That's how we know the wrist got shot when he was shot in the torso. And there's the evidence of it in the crime scene photos.

What do we also know? Here's the gunshot wound to the torso. Here's the gunshot wound under the armpit, both lethal, lethal injuries. Travis McMichael, at the end of his interview, the very end of his interview with Detective Nohilly, do you remember if he grabbed the shotgun at all? I want to say he did, but I honestly cannot remember. If he grabbed that shotgun, that would be the first thing Travis McMichael would have said. Yes, he grabbed my shotgun.

[10:20:00] All right, we are going to talk about Greg McMichael. Greg McMichael did attempt to control the narrative after this took place. He's the one who started this whole thing, and now his son has killed someone, and that that young man is laying dead in the street from she's shotgun blasts.

So, what does Greg McMichael do? Well, while first responders are on the scene, he's telling his kid, you didn't have any choice. He goes over and he talks to Bryan to find out what he saw. Oh, he's got a video. He goes over and he talks to Diego Perez. He's outside the crime scene tape wandering around, talking to people. Someone brings him his phone. Stranger comes up to him, some stranger, some neighbor comes up to him. I mean, this is a crime scene. There is a deceased young man in the middle of the road, and strangers are walking up to him. And what does he tell the stranger? This guy ain't no shuffler (ph). This guy is an asshole, malice right there. That's how you know, right there.

2:15 P.M., he's talking to Captain Tom Jump, the head of CID, the head of the criminal investigations division of Glynn County Police Department. While Tom Jump's crime scene tech is taking photos, okay, and then Greg McMichael drives his white truck from the scene, she never got any pictures of the white truck, she never gotten pictures of the Silverado. The white truck was never searched. Mr. Bryan's truck was never searched. Neither of those trucks were impounded.

So what have we got? We got this, outside the crime scene tape talking to the head of CID. And what happens -- look at the crime scene photos. Take a look at it. What happens next? He drives that truck away while the crime scene tech was there taking photos. No one said Mr. Arbery had a weapon. No one said Mr. Arbery made any verbal threats or gestures. Nobody said, I saw him commit a crime today. No one said, I'm making a citizen's arrest. No one was trying to arrest him for a crime of anything. No one ever said any of these things on February 3rd, 2020.

Greg McMichael's statements to the police, these are important, this is why Greg McMichael is guilty. Did this guy break into a house today? That's just it, I don't know. That's what I told what's her name out there. I said, listen, you might want to go knock on doors down there because this guy just done something because he was fleeing from. I don't know. He might have gone in somebody's house.

You can't make a citizen's arrest because someone's running down the street and you have no idea what crime they have committed that day. You can't hold somebody so the police can show up to go, he must have done something. Why don't you police officers figure what it was that he went and did today? But that's what Greg McMichael told the police.

Then he was asked, is he picking up anything or going through anything? You know, not that I recall. I don't think the guy has actually stolen anything out of there. Or if he did, it was early on in the process, but he keeps going back over there, over and over again, this damn house. No one ever said, we have evidence that he stole items out of Larry English's boat back on some unknown date, so we were trying to arrest him for that. There's never any mention of Larry English's house and the stolen items off the boat, not by anybody.

My intention was to stop this guy so that he could be arrested. Never says for what. Never says what crime it was he was going to be arrested for. I don't think the guy has actually stolen anything. Did he break into a house today? I don't know. And in that same sentence, he could be arrested or at least identified.

So, this is all for identification. This, this whole entire thing, this, this was all to do what? Identify Mr. Arbery. That's what we're doing. That's what Greg McMichael says. How do you know it was an attack on Mr. Arbery? Strangers with intent to kill? I yelled, stop or I'll blow your fucking head off or something. I wanted to let him know that we weren't playing. This is what he said to the police.

Now, he got up here and went, yes, he was just confused. He didn't mean that. He didn't remember what he said. Really? He proudly told the police, this is what he said to Mr. Arbery. We're going to kill you if you don't stop. Greg McMichael, yes, he was trapped like a rat.


Knowledge, intent, that they had committed false imprisonment on Holmes Drive, right there, Greg McMichael, guilty of all charges.

Why? What's your emergency? I'm out here on Satilla Shores and there's a black man running down the street. Yes. This is what we get. This is what we get, driveway decisions and assumptions, right here.

I've gone through all of this. I'm not going to do it again. Bottom line, ladies and gentlemen, they committed four felonies against Ahmaud Arbery in violation of his personal liberty before he finally tried to run around their truck after running from them for five minutes. He was trying to get away from these strangers who are yelling at him, yelling at him, threatening to kill him. And then they kill him, all right?

Do you have any doubt that they committed all of the charges in the indictment? No. No. Remember, a reasonable doubt does not mean a vague or arbitrary doubt. But it's a doubt for which a reason can be given. In other words, you say it out loud, I doubt William Roddie Bryan was committing aggravated assault with his pickup truck because it was just reckless conduct. If you can honestly look each other in the eye and say that about Mr. Bryan with a straight face, ladies and gentlemen, you're the jury, you decide, this is your search for the truth, if you honestly can look at each other and say that out loud, then find him not guilty of aggravated assault. Find him guilty of a lesser. Because you decide. You are Glynn County. I mean, today, you are Glynn County.

Remember, this isn't about having personal baggage back in the jury room. It's not about a point of view or an agenda or anything like that. That's not what's going on. You all are really, really smart and you've paid really close attention to this case. You're going to determine what really happened based on the evidence, and then you're going to apply the law that the judge gives you to that evidence. It's not about being an advocate for anybody. It's your search for the truth.

I suggest, witness again that you work from the bottom of the indictment. It's just going to be easier, criminal attempt at false imprisonment and then work your way through it. It will help you logically. Remember party to a crime when you're talking about Greg McMichael and Mr. Bryan. You're going to get a form. The state will ask you to fill it out this way, especially for Mr. Bryan and the aggravated assault with the pickup trucks.

He's not guilty of simple assault. He's not guilty of reckless conduct. He's not guilty of reckless driving. He's guilty of aggravated assault for putting Ahmaud Arbery in reasonable apprehension, fear of receiving serious bodily injury. I overshot the road and forced him into a ditch.

Ladies and gentlemen, here is the thing. This isn't about whether these three men are good people or bad people. That's not what this is about. It's about responsibility. It's about holding people accountable and responsible for their actions. When they do something like this, they have to be held accountable and responsible. Nobody gets a free pass, okay? Would you get a free pass? Who gets a free pass? No. The law basically says if you commit the crime, you're going to be held responsible.

And, ladies and gentlemen, when you come back with a guilty verdict on all the charges, this isn't saying somebody is a good person or a bad person. What you're saying is you know he committed the crime. Now, we know he committed the crime too. That's all it is. They know what they did. It's not like they don't know what they did. They know exactly what they did and they know why they did it. It's not a mystery to them.

When you come back with your guilty verdict, all you're doing is telling them, we know what you did too. And we're going to hold you responsible for it, because guess what you did? You turned this young man into that young man. That's what you did, for absolutely no good reason at all.