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Ahmaud Arbery

Ahmaud Arbery: Judge upholds murder charges after explosive testimony of racism, violence

After listening to shocking testimony during a preliminary court hearing on Thursday, a Georgia judge upheld murder charges against three men accused of chasing 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery down and killing him.

Judge Wallace E. Harrell of Glynn County Magistrate Court ruled that enough probable cause exists to uphold murder charges against Greg McMichael, Travis McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan,  three men who all allegedly played parts in Arbery’s death.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, video recorded by Bryan in February allegedly showed the McMichaels chasing Arbery for several minutes around the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick, while in their truck, before blocking him in. The McMichaels suspected that Arbery was responsible for a string of break-ins in the neighborhood, although they had no proof of their claims.

Bryan, who also pursued Arbery in his vehicle, blocked Arbery with his truck from behind as the McMichaels circled around the blocked and stopped in front of the victim. Travis McMichael then got out his truck, armed with a shotgun. A scuffle broke out and Travis McMichael ended up shooting Arbery three times.

Arbery, unarmed, died at the scene.

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During Tuesday’s court hearing, Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Richard Dial provided testimony that provided a glimpse into the suspects’ alleged racist views. Key points of Dial’s testimony include:

  • Neighbors told authorities that they had seen Arbery jogging several times previously in the neighborhood, and often waved and spoke to him.
  • Social media messages sent by Bryan indicated that he used the n-word to describe black people.
  • Travis McMichael admitted he shot Arbery three times during the heat of the moment and that his adrenaline was pumping.
  • Bryan told police he heard Travis McMichael yell “fu***** n*****” after shooting Arbery and while standing over his body.
  • The McMichaels never called 911 before pursuing him.
  • Arbery ran in a ditch to avoid the suspects, but when he emerged and tried to leave the neighborhood, the suspects wouldn’t let him.
  • Bryan hit Arbery with his truck when Arbery tried to exit the neighborhood.
  • Bryan waited until after the McMichaels’ arrests before he admitted to hearing the racial slur. He never mentioned it previously.
  • Travis McMichael used racial epitaphs numerous times over text messages and social media. He allegedly said he wished someone would “blow that fu***** n****** head off.”
  • In another instance, Travis McMichael, who was in the U.S. Coast Guard, said he loved his job because “was on a boat and there weren’t any N-words anywhere.”

Travis McMichael [right] holds a shotgun at Arbery [left] during the deadly February encounter. 
Defense lawyers for the suspects argued that murder charges should be dropped. Franklin Hogue, a lawyer for Gregory McMichael, said that his client had a valid reason to believe Arbery committed a crime. McMichael, however, previously admitted that he wasn’t sure if Arbery had been responsible for recent break-ins in the neighborhood, but had a “gut feeling.”

Travis McMichael’s lawyer, Jason Sheffield, argued that his client was defending himself during a scuffle with Arbery.

Sheffield: “Travis McMichael used self-defense when he was attacked by Mr. Arbery.”

Dial: “I don’t think it was self-defense by Mr. McMichael. I believe it was self-defense by Mr. Arbery.”

Watch the full hearing below.

Click HERE to read additional coverage of the Arbery case.

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[Feature Photo: Ahmaud Arbery/Handout; Greg and Travis McMichael/Facebook]