Lawyers representing two of the men charged for Ahmaud Arbery’s death told a Glynn County, Georgia, court during a Nov. 12 bond hearing that their clients should be released because of their history of community service and they had a Black or non-white acquaintances, arguments that ultimately proved unsuccessful.
Father-son duo George and Travis McMichael — who have been jailed since May, two months after the latter killed 25-year-old Arbery — were appearing virtually in front of Judge Timothy Walmsley in a hearing that stretched into Friday before Walmsley denied bond for the pair.
Arbery died on Feb. 23 after the McMichaels and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan pursued him as he jogged through their neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia. Once they caught up with Arbery, Travis McMichael confronted him with a shotgun. The men fought over the gun before Travis McMichael shot Arbery in the chest three times. Bryan filmed the shooting on his cellphone.
After Arbery’s death received substantial attention due to social media and media coverage, all three men were arrested in May. They were charged with felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment and malice murder. A judge denied bond for Bryan in July.
The suspects claimed they chased Arbery because they believed he was responsible for a string of burglaries in the area.
During Thursday’s court proceeding, Bob Rubin insisted Travis McMichael, his client, lived a good life before the shooting, reported The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“We strongly believe our client is an excellent candidate for bond, based on his ties to the community, lack of criminal records and history of service in Glynn County and beyond,” Rubin said. His assessment is based six instances when Travis McMichael saved lives during his time as a lifeguard and member U.S. Coast Guard. Zachary Langford, a friend of Travis McMichael, testified the suspect was a jokester and had at least one Black friend.
Frank Hogue, the attorney representing George McMichael, told the court his client saved a Black man from drowning when he was in the Navy.
Rubin claimed Arbery was not an innocent party. Both lawyers claim the killing was not motivated by racism.
“We have substantial evidence that, on the day in question, Mr. Arbery was not a jogger,” said Rubin. “He was there for nefarious purposes.”
During the court hearing, the prosecution read racist text and social media messages written by Travis McMichael, reported The Associated Press. In one message, he used a racial slur to refer to a “crackhead…with gold teeth.”
When questioned about this, Langford said Travis McMichael was referring to a raccoon. He was also accused of using a racial slur against Asians in another message.
Rubin conceded during the hearing that the younger McMichael sent “private offensive messages” but said his client’s history of previous good behavior and his Coast Guard service are evidence he deserves a bond.
Judge Walmsley was unpersuaded.