BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The shotgun blasts that hit Ahmaud Arbery punched a gaping hole in his chest and unleashed massive bleeding, a medical examiner testified Tuesday as jurors saw autopsy photos that showed Arbery’s white T-shirt stained entirely red.
Testifying at the murder trial of the three white men who chased Arbery down, Dr. Edmund Donoghue said Arbery was hit by two of the three shotgun rounds fired at him. He said both gunshots caused severe bleeding that could have killed the 25-year-old, who was Black.
The first shot at close range tore through an artery in Arbery’s right wrist and punched a big hole in the center of his chest, said Donoghue, a medical examiner for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
The second shot missed entirely, while the third shot fired at point-blank range ripped through a major artery and vein near his left armpit and fractured bones in his shoulder and upper arm.
“Is there anything law enforcement or EMS could have done to save his life at the scene?” prosecutor Linda Dunikoski asked the medical examiner.
“I don’t think so. No,” Donoghue replied.
Donoghue performed an autopsy on Feb. 24, 2020, the day after Arbery was slain. The jury saw close-up photos of his injuries, which included several large abrasions to Arbery’s face from when he fell facedown in the street following the third gunshot. Photos of his clothing showed his T-shirt stained entirely red. Cellphone video of the shooting shows it had been white.
The testimony came a day after the judge refused to declare a mistrial over defense claims that jurors were tainted when Arbery’s mother wept over evidence photos, which called attention to the presence of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was sitting beside her in the courtroom’s public gallery.
Defense attorney Kevin Gough on Monday asked the judge to make the civil rights leader leave to avoid unfairly influencing the jury.
Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley said no group would be excluded from his courtroom, and he described as “reprehensible” Gough’s complaints last week that the defense did not “want any more Black pastors coming in here.”
Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael armed themselves and pursued Arbery in a pickup truck after spotting him running in their neighborhood. Their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan joined the chase and took cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery.
Defense attorneys say the men had a right to make a citizen’s arrest of someone they suspected of stealing from the neighborhood, and that the younger McMichael fired the gun in self-defense after Arbery tried to take it from him.
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Bryan and the McMichaels are charged with murder and other crimes. Prosecutors say they chased Arbery for five minutes to keep him from leaving the Satilla Shores subdivision outside the port city of Brunswick. The chase ended when Arbery, trailed by Bryan’s truck, tried to run around the McMichaels’ truck as it idled in the road ahead. The video shows Travis McMichael confronting Arbery and then shooting him as he throws punches and grapples for the gun.
The McMichaels told police they suspected Arbery was a burglar after security cameras recorded him several times inside a home under construction, five houses away.
By RUSS BYNUM, Associated Press.