ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10/CNN) — The bond hearing for two men facing charges related to the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery resumes today.
Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was jogging outside Brunswick, Georgia, when Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis, chased him in their truck and then shot him, authorities said.
Both men have been indicted by a grand jury on malice and felony murder charges in Arbery’s death. The charges also include aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
The father and son appeared in the Glynn County, Georgia, court via video conference.
At the start of the hearing Thursday, prosecutors read out racial messages allegedly written by Travis McMichael.
The McMichaels’ defense teams called multiple witnesses, including Gregory McMichael’s wife, Allison McMichael, and other friends willing to contribute to the bond. The attorneys claimed the pair are not a flight risk.
Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, read an emotional impact statement in court. “In the name of justice, decency and fairness, please keep these men behind bars until they can answer for what they did,” she said. “Ahmaud wasn’t allowed to go home. Ahmaud wasn’t even allowed the chance to live,” she added.
During testimony on Thursday, prosecutor Jesse Evans asked Travis McMichael’s longtime friend, Zachary Langford, about a comment Travis had made on a Facebook post last year that read, “ha ha ha ha! Sayonara you slant eyed f**ks.”
Evans also asked about a text exchange last November between Langford and McMichael, where Travis made a reference to “shooting a crackhead coon with gold teeth and a Hi Point .45.”
Langford said he did not remember either incident, but when presented with evidence that he had responded to the text, Langford told Evans “he was referring to a raccoon.”
The defense characterized the text messages as “inappropriate jokes.”
Character witnesses called by the defense described McMichael as a person who got along with everybody and felt remorse for the shooting.
A third suspect, William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., who recorded the shooting death of Arbery while driving his vehicle, was denied bond back in July. Bryan has pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment and felony murder.
How the jog ended in tragedy
Gregory McMichael told police that he thought Arbery, who was out jogging on February 23rd, looked like a person suspected in a series of recent break-ins in the area, according to the report.
But no string of break-ins was reported in the more than seven weeks before Arbery’s death, and there was only a burglary report after a gun was stolen from an unlocked vehicle in front of the McMichaels’ home, police said.
McMichael also told officers that Arbery and Travis McMichael struggled over his son’s shotgun. He said two shots were fired before Arbery fell to the street, according to a police report.
The third suspect, Bryan, had made a video recording of the fatal shooting that went viral and led first to the McMichaels’ arrests, and then to his own. Investigators said they believed Bryan used his vehicle to try to “confine and detain” Arbery multiple times in the minutes leading to Arbery’s death, an arrest warrant said.
A Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent had testified that Arbery probably felt trapped and felt he had to fight. Bryan had told investigators he heard Travis McMichael use a racial epithet after fatally shooting Arbery, according to a GBI agent.
Arbery was shot three times, including twice in the chest, according to an autopsy performed by the GBI.
The case stalled for weeks after the shooting as two district attorneys recused themselves, including one who said the actions of the McMichaels were “perfectly legal.” There were widespread protests during the summer after video of his killing surfaced.
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