Legal Issues in Arbury Murder Case Incorrectly Reported
Citizen's Arrest Largely Irrelevant to Defense From Murder Charge
Banzhaf has successfully predicted - and provided a legal analysis for - many noteworthy justified self defense cases going back to subway shooter Bernhard Goetz, and more recently including George Zimmerman.
Whether or not Gregory and/or Travis McMichael would have the legal privilege to perform a citizen's arrest makes no difference because they are not charged with unlawfully arresting Arbury.
The defendants' apparent belief that they had such a legal privilege probably explained why they followed and eventually confronted Arbury, who they may have believed had engaged in some wrongdoing.
At the time that Travis confronted Arbury, each had the protection of Georgia's stand-your-ground self defense law.
Under the stand-your-ground portion, neither has any legal duty to try to retreat, defuse the situation, etc. So each may have had a legal privilege to use force against the other.
More precisely, Travis would be legally privileged to shoot Arbury - which should be a sufficient defense to any criminal charge, including murder - unless the prosecutor can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Travis did not have such a belief, or that the belief was not reasonable under the circumstances.
If the defendants choose not to testify in their own defense, it may be difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Travis did not reasonably believe that he had to use deadly force to defend himself, or that Travis deliberately provoked Arbury so that his shooting would be legally privileged under Georgia law.
On the other hand, if Travis testifies that he either said nothing to Arbury, or that his words were not sufficient to provoke an attack (e.g., "may I ask what you are doing here"), it might also be difficult for the prosecutor to prove the contrary, especially beyond a reasonable doubt.