How the trial of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers ended up going the way it should have

Some people just cannot see the proverbial forest for the trees. One could also say that some believe themselves above the law or that their skin color is enough to make them righteous. That seems to be the issue with Travis McMichael, one of three recently convicted of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. It is rare that attorneys allow defendants to testify on their own behalf in murder trials, but McMichael’s attorney took the chance. We all know how that turned out. NBC News spoke to experts who believe McMichael sealed his own fate with his self-serving testimony.

Bernarda Villalona is a criminal defense attorney who appeared on NBC News to discuss the outcome of this case. Interestingly, Villalona said that once the defendants claimed self-defense, the prosecution was charged with “disproving” their claim beyond a reasonable doubt, but that was not difficult. Villalona said that McMichael’s testimony “really didn’t come off as credible.” You think? Three men in two pickup trucks chasing one unarmed jogger does not sound very credible nor is it “self-defense.” If someone is running away from you, what are you defending? Making it even easier for the prosecutor, McMichael admitted that he knew Arbery was not armed, and Arbery made no threats toward McMichael or anyone else. Villalona hit the proverbial nail on the head with her comment: “The only threat here was two pickup trucks chasing an unarmed African American male.”

Glenn Kirschner, who is a legal analyst for NCB News and MSNBC said that he has rarely “seen a defendant who’s put on the stand . . . perform so poorly.” He performed poorly because there was no self-defense. Kirschner went on to say—just as the prosecutor said in her rebuttal—“If you are the first aggressor, then you really have an uphill battle convincing a jury that you have a right to take the life of another.” As Kirschner said, these three men decided that they would serve as judge, jury, and executioner of a man who was simply running through their neighborhood. Though justice was seemingly done in this case, there was one unfinished piece of business left, which Attorney General Chris Carr and a Grand Jury handled.


Associated Press reported that former prosecutor Jackie Johnson was charged and booked into the Glynn County jail for her refusal to prosecute the three men who were just convicted of murder in the Arbery case. She was formally charged with violating her oath of office and obstructing police by using her to position to discourage the police from arresting the perpetrators of this crime. While Johnson wanted to blame “the controversy” for losing her office, her failure to do her job was the culprit. She knew Greg McMichael from his days as an investigator for her office, and she decided to turn away from doing the right thing because of that relationship. Likely, she—like the McMichael father and son—did not think Arbery’s life worth the effort. They have all found out the hard way that their way of thinking was wrong. Hopefully, Johnson will suffer a similar fate.

Palmer Report articles are all 100% free to read, with no forced subscriptions and nothing hidden behind paywalls. If you value our content, you're welcome to pay for it:
Pay $5 to Palmer Report:
Pay $25 to Palmer Report:
Pay $75 to Palmer Report:

Sign up for the Palmer Report Mailing List.
Write for the Palmer Report Community Section.