BRUNSWICK, Ga. — *WARNING: The following article contains content that may be offensive to some. Discretion is advised.
The jurors charged with deciding the fates of three men accused in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery have been deliberating for about a day, but on Wednesday morning, they returned to the courtroom. The panel gave the judge a note requesting to see two videos showing Arbery being shot and the 911 call made by one of the suspects.
The note read:
“We the jury request to see the following videos three times each: 1. the original video, the short version. 2. the enhanced high contrast version and then we would also like to listen to the 911 call on 2/23 made by Greg McMichael”
The jurors are the only people who know exactly why this video and audio were requested, but First Coast News legal analyst Lafonda Middleton has some ideas.
"It’s really hard to speculate about what they’re thinking," Middleton told On Your Side's Keitha Nelson. "I can only speculate that they’re possibly reevaluating the self defense arguments because they asked to see the videos and they asked to just see small snippets of it. So possibly Travis McMichael, because he’s the one that had the shotgun, and that’s the video they wanted to see, but then, interesting enough, they wanted to hear the 911 call, from Greg McMichael. I think they are analyzing the McMichael’s and what they want to do with the McMichael’s.
"They could also have one or two holdouts and those holdouts need to be reassured about what they’re being told in the deliberation room," Middleton said.
Why did jurors want to hear the 911 call again?
"What I was thinking, when they called for the audio, is they were listening for the tone of voice," Middleton said. "Because Travis testified that he was asking him in a nice calm way ‘hey, please stop … we just want to talk to you. What’s going on?’ But the tone in the 911 call was completely different from what Travis McMichael testified to.”
Jurors deliberated for six hours Monday and told the judge they wanted to continue, but they were sent home for the night. Middleton theorized that this may mean they're close to a verdict. "I thought they were close to making a decision, but wanted to go home and sleep on it," she said. "I was really thinking we would have a verdict today (Wednesday)."
The McMichaels and their neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, are charged with murder and other crimes in the shooting death of Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was running in a Brunswick, Ga. neighborhood. The defendants, all of whom are White, have separately been charged by the Justice Department with federal hate crimes. The men have pleaded not guilty and claim they were acting in self-defense.