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The indictment in the Arbery murder trial stands still | National

BRUNSWICK, Georgia – After eight days of testimony and 23 witnesses, prosecutors have closed the trial of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder.

Prosecutors called four other GBI staff Tuesday, including the forensic pathologist who performed Arbery’s autopsy the day after he was murdered.

Arbery was shot twice last year after being chased through the Satilla Shores neighborhood, but the first shotgun alone was enough to kill him, said Dr. Edmund Donoghue, a renowned pathologist who previously served as the chief medical examiner for Cook County, Illinois.

From the stands, he walked the jury through close-up shots of the serious injuries Arbery sustained after he was shot dead at close range by the Defendant Travis McMichael.

Although Arbery’s wounds were fatal, none of the bullets hit his heart and it was his “fight-or-flight response” that allowed him to keep fighting for the gun on the street, Donoghue said.

Arbery’s injuries included a gash in the center of his chest, a large abrasion on his right wrist, a broken humerus, broken ribs, and a paralyzed left arm. Many of the pellets left the 25-year-old’s body, the pathologist testified. Others got stuck in his torso and shoulder, according to a full-body X-ray shown in court.

The jury was again shown Arbery’s white T-shirt and khaki shorts, both of which were bright red stained with blood. The profile on the bottom of his Nike running shoes was almost gone, as the coroner’s photos showed.

The first shot was fatal, said Donoghue, and Arbery couldn’t have saved anything.

“There was nothing you could do about the bleeding while your heart was beating,” he said.

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, folded her hands and closed her eyes when the graphic photos were first shown. She later got up and went out, according to a pool reporter in the courtroom.

McMichael, his father Greg McMichael, and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan were charged with murder and other charges in the February 23, 2020 shootings. The defendants argue that they tried to arrest Arbery, whom they suspected of having been involved in a series of break-ins in the neighborhood. Travis McMichael’s attorneys claim he shot three times in self-defense during a shotgun fight.

Leigh McMichael, Greg’s wife and Travis’ mother, was seen crying during a brief pause to testify and was comforted by one of her husband’s lawyers.

Donoghue admitted that he first realized that the shotgun might have been fired from a few meters away. It was only after seeing the cellphone video that he changed his mind and found the shotgun fired much closer to Arbery’s torso. The video also helped Donoghue determine the sequence of the explosions.

It is rare in his work to determine which shot hit someone first, he said. After watching the video, he found that the first shot hit Arbery’s chest and wrist at the same time, the second completely missed, and the third shot hit Arbery in the shoulder, causing his arm to go limp before collapsing on the street.

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski noted Arbery’s fight-or-flight reaction and asked, “What if you can’t run away?”

“It’s fight or flight, so you could fight after you couldn’t escape,” said Donoghue.

Donoghue said the stress and anxiety that accompanied the chase caused Arbery’s adrenal glands to go into high gear. It also increased his blood pressure and heart rate, Donoghue testified. Arbery’s body cut the blood supply to his intestines to allow more blood to flow into his muscles. “That prepares you to run or fight,” he testified.

Under cross-examination, attorney Bob Rubin substantiated his client’s claim to self-defense by discovering that Arbery continued to fight after the fatal shot.

“You saw picture by picture that Mr. Arbery had his hand on the shotgun, right?” asked Rubin. “You saw in the video and in the individual images that despite the wound on his wrist, Mr. Arbery was able to strike and hit Travis McMichael?

“Yes,” replied Donoghue.

“Nothing about that wound, blood spatter, or other damage to the tissue prevented Mr. Arbery from holding the gun with one hand and swinging the other and hitting Mr. McMichael,” remarked Rubin.

“That’s right,” said the pathologist.

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© 2021 The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Visit ajc.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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