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Verdict Reached in McMichael/Bryan Trial

Attorney Page Pate, a criminal defense attorney and legal analyst, has closely followed the Ahmaud Arbery murder case and trial of the three men charged in Mr. Arbery’s death over the past year and a half. He has been interviewed by many media outlets about the various stages of the case and the trial. As the trial concluded with the jury reaching guilty verdicts in the case, Page was interviewed by WGCL-CBS for his reaction to the verdicts, the community response, and about the sentences that the Defendants may now face.

Page tells CBS that he is “relieved” by the guilty verdicts returned by the jury in the case. He says that “this community has come an incredibly long way. I mean, just think back in February of 2020, not only were these individuals still free, there was no crime here. The district attorney, two different district attorneys had passed on this case, thought it was clear self-defense.” Page also comments that “We would have never been in this position, but for the video.” He explains that the jury in this case “went through the evidence carefully and you can tell they did that because they didn’t find everybody guilty of everything. They tried to only find people guilty based on the evidence. Bottom line, one murder count at least for each defendant, and that means a life sentence for each defendant in this case.”

Due to Page’s local connections to Brunswick, Georgia, he is asked how the local community can move past having been in the national spotlight with this case. Page says that he is optimistic that they will be able to. He also says that he thinks “the community has handled this trial well” and that “there’ve been a lot of changes here, positive changes.” He further explains that “when these people were indicted and arrested, finally there was relief in the community. I don’t think there were many people here who thought that that was the wrong decision. I think most people believe they should have been arrested, they should have been charged with murder and should have been convicted.” Page’s office overlooks the Glynn County Courthouse square, and from his unique vantage point, he has been able to observe the activity outside the Courthouse throughout the trial. He tells CBS that during the trial “there’ve been protestors, have been supporters, demonstrators, but it has been peaceful. And I see no reason for that to change.”

Regarding the possible sentencing outcomes for the Defendants in this case, Page says that regardless of whether the conviction is for malice murder or felony murder, “the sentence is life, but that life sentence can either be with parole, which means they would be authorized to seek parole after serving 30 years of the sentence or life without parole. So what the judge has said, “Is I’m gonna postpone sentencing, give both sides time to argue mitigation or aggravation to try to decide, am I gonna give them a chance of parole or just send it to them to straight life no parole?”

TRANSCRIPT:

Woman: All right, let’s go back to our legal analyst, Page Pate, who’s been watching this trial very closely. Page, I believe we’ve worked out the kinks there and can hear you, but I wanted to find out your reaction to this verdict.

Page: Well, I’m relieved by this verdict. I am here in Glynn County now. I’ve had an office here for several years and this community has come an incredibly long way. I mean, just think back in February of 2020, not only were these individuals still free, there was no crime here. The district attorney, two different district attorneys had passed on this case, thought it was clear self-defense.

We would have never been in this position, but for the video. The jury went through the evidence carefully and you can tell they did that because they didn’t find everybody guilty of everything. They tried to only find people guilty based on the evidence. Bottom line, one murder count at least for each defendant, and that means a life sentence for each defendant in this case.

Woman: And Page, adding the time that the jury spent deliberating, about 11 hours or so. And I know, you know, as a defense attorney, you can’t pin a whole lot on how long the jury deliberates, but in this case, like you mentioned, they did come back with a swift verdict and one that they looked at closely. And what does it say to you, too, that, you know, they wanted to look at once again that video and listened to the 911 calls. And as you mentioned, that video, unfortunately, we’ve been playing over and over and it had been, but right there, it seems to be clear evidence of what happened and how Ahmaud Arbey was chased down and hunted down someone saying.

Page: Well, you would think so. And I certainly think so, but as we heard during this trial, there was at least one witness who testified an individual who lived in the McMichaels’ neighborhood, who thought that video was evidence of self-defense. So there are some people that see it differently. And what I think happened today is you may have had one or two people who are on the fence and the rest of the jury said, “Look, let’s go back in and watch this video again. Listen to Greg McMichael on the phone and say that the emergency is a black man running through the neighborhood.” And I think that’s all it took to sway whatever people were holding out.

Woman: And Page, because you do have an office in that community and have been there quite some time in Glynn County, you know, this is an area that had the nation’s attention on it. You know, a very small community, relatively small. How can they move past now being the spotlight, you know, for a trial like this? Many would say, this is a reckoning, certainly after the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict to have this kind of verdict in a case like this that has gotten national attention, how can the community move past this?

Page: Well, I’m very optimistic about that. I mean, it was when these people were indicted and arrested, finally there was relief in the community. I don’t think there were many people here who thought that that was the wrong decision. I think most people believe they should have been arrested, they should have been charged with murder and should have been convicted. I’ve got a great vantage point here.

I’m literally looking over the courthouse square. This entire trial there’ve been protestors have been supporters, demonstrators, but it has been peaceful. And I see no reason for that to change. I think the community has handled this trial well, and the DA who did not prosecute the case is not only gone from office she’s under indictment herself. So I think there’ve been a lot of changes here, positive changes.

Woman: And Page, what about sentencing? I know you mentioned that briefly before. What does sentencing look like for all three of the men in this case?

Page: Well, if it’s malice murder or felony murder, the sentence is life, but that life sentence can either be with parole, which means they would be authorized to seek parole after serving 30 years of the sentence or life without parole. So what the judge has said, “Is I’m gonna postpone sentencing, give both sides time to argue mitigation or aggravation to try to decide, am I gonna give them a chance of parole or just send it to them to straight life no parole?”

Woman: Page Pate, thank you as always for your insight. We will certainly be hearing from you later today as we continue our coverage here on CBS 46. Once again…