Ahmaud Arbery killing: trial jury sees photos of autopsy and bloody T-shirt

Photographs from the autopsy of Ahmaud Arbery were shown to jurors on Tuesday, at the murder trial of three white men who chased the 25-year-old Black man before he was fatally shot in their neighborhood last year.

Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael armed themselves and pursued Arbery in a pickup truck after spotting him running in their neighborhood. Their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan joined the chase and took cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery three times with a shotgun.

Arbery was hit in the chest and suffered massive bleeding, a medical examiner testified. Jurors saw photos that showed Arbery’s white T-shirt stained entirely red.

Dr Edmund Donoghue said Arbery was hit by two of three shotgun rounds fired, adding that either blast alone would have killed him.

The first shot at close range tore an artery in Arbery’s right wrist and hit his chest, breaking several ribs and causing heavy internal bleeding, said Donoghue, a medical examiner for the Georgia bureau of investigation.

The second shot missed. The third, point-blank, punctured a major artery and vein near Arbery’s left armpit and fractured bones in his shoulder and upper arm.

“Is there anything law enforcement or EMS could have done to save his life at the scene?” prosecutor Linda Dunikoski asked.

“I don’t think so,” Donoghue replied. “No.”

Donoghue examined Arbery’s body on 24 February 2020, the day after he was killed, at the Georgia bureau of investigation’s crime lab in coastal Georgia.

The jury saw closeup photos of Arbery’s injuries, which included several large abrasions to the face from when he fell in the street following the third gunshot.

Asked by Dunikoski how Arbery was able to fight back after sustaining such a severe chest wound from the first shot, Donoghue called it a “fight or flight reaction” that raised Arbery’s heart rate and blood pressure while sending adrenaline coursing through his body.

The testimony followed the judge’s refusal to declare a mistrial over defense claims jurors were tainted when Arbery’s mother wept over evidence photos, calling attention to the presence of the Rev Jesse Jackson, sitting beside her in the courtroom’s public gallery.

Rejecting a defense lawyer’s complaints about Black pastors at the trial as “reprehensible”, superior court judge Timothy Walmsley said no group would be excluded from his courtroom.

The defense say the presence of civil rights leaders at the trial will unfairly influence the jury, all but one of whom are white.

On Monday, Jackson acknowledged that Arbery’s mother wept “very quietly” in the courtroom after prosecutors showed a photo of her son to a witness.

“As the judge said, it was my constitutional right to be there,” Jackson said outside the courthouse. “It’s my moral obligation to be there.”

The Rev Al Sharpton sat last week with the victim’s parents, Wanda Cooper-Jones and Marcus Arbery Sr. He pledged to return. Activists said 100 Black pastors will join him.

Bryan and the McMichaels are charged with murder and other crimes. The McMichaels told police they suspected Arbery was a burglar after security cameras recorded him several times inside a home under construction, five houses away.

Lawyers for the defendants say they had a right to make a citizen’s arrest of someone they suspected of stealing, and that the younger McMichael fired in self-defense after Arbery tried to take the gun from him.

Prosecutors say the men chased Arbery for five minutes to keep him from leaving the Satilla Shores subdivision outside the port city of Brunswick.

The chase ended when Arbery, trailed by Bryan’s truck, tried to run around the McMichaels’ truck as it idled. Video shows Travis McMichael confronting Arbery and shooting him as he throws punches and grapples for the gun.

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