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Ahmaud Arbery could have asked defendant for help, defense tells Georgia jury

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A lawyer for one of the three white men charged with murdering Ahmaud Arbery when the man ran through their southern Georgia neighborhood told a jury on Wednesday that Arbery could have called out to his client for help but did not.

William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, was the last to join the pursuit of Arbery on the afternoon of Feb. 23, 2020, in Satilla Shores, a leafy cluster of homes outside the small coastal city of Brunswick.

Bryan recorded the cellphone video of Arbery, 25, being killed with a shotgun after the two other defendants chased the jogger in pickup trucks and cornered him. The video caused outrage when it was published more than two months after the shooting.

Bryan along with father-and-son co-defendants Gregory McMichael, 65, and Travis McMichael, 35, have pleaded not guilty to murder, aggravated assault and false imprisonment. They say they thought Arbery might have committed a crime before they chased him and were trying to make a legal citizen’s arrest. They face life in prison if convicted of murder.

Here are some important moments from the ninth day of evidence presentation on Wednesday in Glynn County Superior Court:

OPENING STATEMENT BY KEVIN GOUGH, LAWYER FOR BRYAN:

Bryan was outside making repairs on his porch when a man he had never seen before ran by, pursued by a pickup truck.

Arbery could have called out to Bryan for help, Gough said.

“Arbery has the opportunity to say and speak out, ‘Help! Call 911! There’s crazy people after me,'” Gough told the jury. “That doesn’t happen.”

Prosecutors from the Cobb County district attorney’s office had earlier told the jury that the defendants had “assumed the worst” about a man running in their neighborhood, saying Arbery was simply an avid runner out for a Sunday jog.

“Mr. Bryan hasn’t assumed the worst about anyone,” Gough said, “Mr. Arbery has assumed the worst about Mr. Bryan.”

Bryan joined the chase of Arbery because “he knows the difference between running to something and running from something,” Gough said. He emphasized that, unlike the McMichaels, he did not grab his gun from his home before getting in his pickup truck.

Though opening statements by both sides usually happen before the prosecution case begins, Gough asked to defer his statement until after the prosecution rested, which it did on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York and Rich McKay in Atlanta; editing by Ross Colvin and Cynthia Osterman)

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