The Georgia father and son charged in the shooting death of unarmed Black man Ahmaud Arbery were in court Thursday asking a judge to allow them to post bond.
During the first part of the contentious hearing, attorneys for ex-cop Gregory McMichael and his son Travis tried blocking prosecutors from using racist Facebook posts the two men reportedly shared as evidence against their release. Judge Timothy Walmsley ruled against the defense, saying the posts may be relevant to the case.
The white men have been in jail since May, when they were arrested and charged in the Feb. 23 killing outside the coastal city of Brunswick. The shooting and slow pace of the investigation sparked widespread anger and allegations of racial profiling, with critics describing the case as a modern-day lynching.
The suspects and a neighbor, co-defendant William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., chased and cornered 25-year-old Arbery before Travis McMichael fatally shot him three times in broad daylight. The father and son told police they were trying to carry out a citizen’s arrest of a man who fit the description of a burglary suspect.
Prosecutors say the victim had not stolen anything and was simply jogging 2 miles from his home when the trio “chased, hunted down and ultimately executed” him.”
Bob Rubin, an attorney representing the suspected shooter, also asked the judge Thursday to allow the defense to discuss Arbery’s character at the bond hearing.
“We have substantial evidence on that particular day Mr. Arbery was not there for a jog. He was there for nefarious purposes,” he told the court.
Walmsley denied the request.
The attorneys decided to focus on their clients’ characters, instead, bringing witnesses to discuss the man’s history of community service and good deeds in the military.
Rubin told The Atlanta Constitution-Journal he would point to the five lives Travis McMichael saved in U.S. Coast Guard and another he saved as a lifeguard. His father’s attorney reportedly planned to discuss a case in which the man saved a Black shipmate’s life from drowning while they served in the U.S. Navy.
Bryan, who filmed part of the February encounter on his cellphone, was denied bond in July.
The three men insist their involvement had nothing to do with race, but Bryan told police during an interview that he overheard Travis McMichael say “f—ing n—-r” as he stood over Arbery’s dead body moments after the shooting, a state investigator testified in June.
Among the Facebook posts that were expected to be presented Thursday are “a racial highway video” that the younger McMichael reportedly shared in 2019 as well as an “Identity Dixie” post and a “Racial Johnny Rebel” post allegedly shared by his father, according to court filings obtained by the Journal-Constitution.
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