Key takeaways in Day 8 of Ahmaud Arbery case: Prosecution rests

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(ATLANTA) — Prosecutors rested their case on Tuesday against three white men charged with chasing down and fatally shooting Ahmaud Arbery, after showing the jury gruesome photos from the 25-year-old Black man’s autopsy.

“The state rests,” prosecutor Linda Dunikoski told Judge Timothy Walmsley Tuesday afternoon, after presenting evidence and calling witnesses over eight days.

Walmsley sent the jury of 11 white people and one Black person home for the evening.

Attorneys for defendants Gregory McMichael, 65, his son, Travis McMichael, 35, and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, are expected to begin presenting evidence on Wednesday.

The men have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, aggravated assault and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.

The McMichaels claim through their lawyers that they were attempting to make a citizens’ arrest after they suspected Arbery of being a burglar, and that Travis McMichael shot him in self-defense.

Kevin Gough, the attorney for Bryan, deferred his opening statement until after the prosecution had presented its case. Gough likely will be allowed to give his statement before the defense begins calling witnesses.

Medical examiner testifies

The prosecution called Dr. Edmund Donoghue, a forensic pathologist for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, to the witness stand on Tuesday to testify about the autopsy he conducted on Arbery.

“His cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds,” Donoghue testified.

Dunikoski showed Donoghue a series of photos taken during the postmortem examination and asked the medical examiner to give a detailed description of each.

Donoghue said he conducted the autopsy before he saw a cellphone video taken by Bryan that captured part of Travis McMichael struggling with Arbery and shooting the man with a Remington pump-action shotgun.

Arbery suffered gunshot wounds to the center of his chest and to the left side of his chest near his armpit, according to Donoghue, who added that a graze wound on Arbery’s right wrist apparently was caused by the same blast to the center of his chest, consistent with an individual attempting to push away or grab the shotgun.

He testified that any of the wounds could have killed Arbery, even the graze wound to his wrist.

“It involved the ulnar artery,” Donoghue said of a vein in the wrist, “so blood under pressure would spurt from this wound.”

Dunikoski pointed out abrasions on Arbery’s face and asked how those could have occurred.

“They were caused by an unguarded fall. An unguarded fall is a fall where you have lost consciousness and fall to the ground without being able to put your arms out to protect yourself,” Donoghue said.

The autopsy photos not only showed the traumatic wounds to Arbery’s body but also numerous exit wounds from shotgun pellets. Donoghue also pointed out pellets protruding beneath Arbery’s skin in the front and back of his torso.

Arbery’s mother leaves courtroom

At one point during his testimony, Donoghue described the shorts and T-shirt Arbery was wearing when he was killed, as well as his running shoes.

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, had attempted to stay in court with her head down but left when images of her son’s shoes were displayed.

Donoghue said he revised some of his findings once he was shown Bryan’s video of the shooting. He testified he initially estimated that Arbery was shot from 3 to 4 feet away, but after viewing the video he said he changed the estimated muzzle-to-target distance to 3 inches to 20 inches.

Using still frames of video that showed Arbery struggling with Travis McMichael, Donoghue testified that he believed Arbery’s wrist and center chest wounds happened with the first blast. A second shot missed, and the third hit Arbery in his left side.

Prosecution’s last witness

Before wrapping up the prosecution’s case, Dunikoski called Richard Dial, the Georgia Bureau Investigation agent in charge, to the stand.

Dial narrated drone video retracing the path Arbery took through the Satilla Shores neighborhood near Brunswick as he was allegedly being chased by the McMichaels and Bryan in their pickup trucks on Feb. 23, 2020, the day he was killed while, according to prosecutors, out for a Sunday jog.

During his cross-examination of Dial, Gough tried to get the investigator to agree that his client’s cellphone video indicates Bryan had perhaps given up on the chase and was even heading home when he unexpectedly encountered Arbery again.

Gough has argued that Bryan was just a witness to the shooting and not an active participant in the chase, a scenario prosecutors contend is refuted by evidence.

Gough noted that at one point in his client’s video Arbery gets behind Bryan’s truck and that Bryan backs up. He asked Dial, “Wouldn’t that be consistent with Mr. Bryan trying to be a witness to whatever is about to happen?”

“Sir,” Dial responded, “I don’t believe he was just a witness in what happened.”

ABC News’ Janice McDonald contributed to this report.

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