SAVANNAH, Ga. - A Georgia judge Friday scheduled an October trial for three white men charged with murder in the slaying of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was chased and shot while running in the defendants’ neighborhood.
Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley issued a notice stating that jury selection will begin Oct. 18, with the trial commencing as soon as a jury is seated.
Greg McMichael and his grown son, Travis McMichael, armed themselves and pursued Arbery in a pickup truck on Feb. 23, 2020, just outside the port city of Brunswick, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) south of Savannah. A neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, joined the chase and took cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery at close range as they grappled over a shotgun.
Defense attorneys for the three men charged have insisted they committed no crimes. They have said the McMichaels suspected Arbery was a burglar and that Travis McMichael shot him in self-defense.
Authorities didn’t bring charges in the case until more than two months later, when the video became public and sparked a national outcry over the case.
All three defendants have been jailed without bond since their arrests. They were each indicted on state charges of malice murder and felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
Bryan and the McMichaels also face federal hate crimes charges after a grand jury indicted them last month in U.S. District Court.
Francys Johnson is an attorney for Davis, Bozeman, Johnson Law Group and said the men violated Arbery’s rights when they interfered with his right to jog freely on a public street in Brunswick because of his race.
"It basically is an interference with rights. They used their truck to cut off Ahmaud Arbery’s root, they threatened him with firearms and in doing so they injured him because he’s an African American man, because of his race and color," Johnson said.
No word on when the trio is expected to meet those charges in federal court.
"He had a right to run down a public highway and they denied him that the most basic right to move freely in one’s community and they denied him that. Every citizen has a right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness and today the justice department weighed in and said Ahmaud Arbery had that right as well and that right was denied on February 23, 2020," Johnson said.
Their first appearance before a federal magistrate judge is scheduled for next Tuesday, followed by two days of pretrial hearings in the state’s murder case.
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