Arbery murder accused says he 'misspoke'

·2-min read

Pressed by a prosecutor about inconsistencies in his testimony, Travis McMichael said at his murder trial that he misspoke to police in the hours after fatally shooting Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who ran by McMichael's home in Georgia.

McMichael, one of three white men on trial for Arbery's death, had told the jury a day earlier that Arbery was grabbing his shotgun at the end of a five-minute chase, so he fired in self defence.

On Thursday, he conceded he told police that day he could not say for sure whether Arbery actually grabbed it.

The defence teams rested their cases on Thursday, and jurors were told to return on Monday for closing arguments.

McMichael said the accounts he gave of the shooting to police initially were "choppy" because he was nervous and under stress.

He at times misspoke, he said, or "had it wrong" in his statements made soon after the shooting on February 23, 2020, in Satilla Shores in coastal Georgia.

"I just killed a man," he said. "I had blood on me still. It was the most traumatic event of my life."

Prosecutors and relatives say Arbery was an avid runner jogging in a neighbourhood a couple of kilometres from his home.

McMichael told jurors on Wednesday that while he and his father and co-defendant, Gregory McMichael, were chasing Arbery in their pick-up truck, Arbery "turned and ran" when the younger McMichael told him the police were on their way.

In cross-examination by prosecutor Linda Dunikoski on Thursday, McMichael agreed he did not explicitly mention such a moment in a police interview the afternoon of the shooting, nor include it in a written statement he made that day.

He later conceded his father had not called the police while they were pursuing Arbery.

The younger McMichael said he tried to be calm when calling out to Arbery during the chase and used polite language including "please".

Dunikoski contrasted this with the threatening language McMichael's father used, according to his accounts to police.

The two McMichaels presented a joint defence. Their neighbour Bryan, who jumped in his own truck and joined the chase after seeing it go past his driveway, did not call witnesses.

McMichael left the stand after more than six hours of testimony over two days.

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