It has been a while since we have discussed the Ahmad Arbery case. The three men convicted of killing Arbery faced state murder charges in Georgia. Each was convicted on felony murder or malice murder charges, with the ringleader facing the harshest charges of the three. But their problems did not stop there. The federal government also wanted a piece of the men and convicted them on additional charges.
This does not happen very often, but the federal government can increase the misery of certain individuals by filing federal charges against those who have already been convicted of state-level charges. In the case of the Arbery killers, the three men were tried and convicted of murder based only on the facts of the crime. In other words, the Georgia prosecutors avoided bringing race into the prosecution at all. It was a tricky maneuver because everyone knew that this was a racially motivated attack. But Georgia has a large population of rural whites, which makes it among the most conservative states in the country next to neighboring Alabama.
So state prosecutors decided to try the three men based on the facts of the altercation with Arbery and successfully gained convictions when the defendants failed to prove that Arbery had a weapon or was a threat when they rode him down in their pickup.
What Did the Feds Convict the Arbery Killers On?
The men had already been charged and convicted of murder. Double jeopardy does NOT prevent the men from being charged and convicted with murder again by the federal government. In other words, the men could have faced double charges for murdering Arbery, but the federal government decided to take a different approach.
Instead of nailing the men to the wall with two convictions on identical charges, they took a completely different approach in their prosecution of the Arbery killers. They filed federal hate crime, kidnapping, and assorted charges against the men. In other words, the federal prosecution completed and perfected what the Georgia prosecution was afraid to broach: The racist elements that gave rise to the murder. A federal jury would have likely been much more receptive to the allegations than a Georgia state jury would have been.
In their prosecution of the Arbery killers, federal prosecutors introduced evidence of racist text messages sent between the three men prior to the killing. They also presented evidence that the stop was illegal (attempted kidnapping) and that they illegally used a firearm in the commission of a crime. While such charges are not as damaging as murder-one, the spectacle of being convicted on racial hatred charges is important to the Black communities that are affected by racism. Meanwhile, the prosecution presented witnesses that discussed the racist tirades the men often spouted.
So, the prosecution of the three white men convicted of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery is complete. It took two trials, but the men have been convicted for both what they did and why they did it.
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If you have been charged with a serious crime in the Chicago area, call Chicago criminal defense attorney David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.