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Judge Denies Request from One of the Three Men In Ahmaud Arbery’s Case to Have Confederate License Photo Removed from Evidence

The murder trial in the case of the slaying of Ahmaud Arbery is approaching this month, and one of the men accused of killing the Black jogger in February 2020 in the coastal Georgia town of Brunswick is trying to stop a photo of his Confederate flag-themed license plate from being shown to jurors.

Travis McMichael and his attorneys have requested that photographic evidence at his upcoming trial not include one photo that shows McMichael’s white Ford truck. The vehicle displays a vanity license plate styled after Georgia’s state flag from 1956 to 2001 that featured the Confederate flag emblem.

Gregory McMichael (left), Travis McMichael (center) and William Bryan (right)/Mugshot

Lawyers for McMichael claimed the photo was “not relevant and is prejudicial,” court documents viewed by Atlanta Black Star revealed.

However, prosecutors filed a motion arguing the photo’s relevance, noting that “the fact that this vanity plate was on the front of his pick-up truck on Feb. 23, 2020, are intrinsic evidence in this case and can be fully be used by the State to illustrate the intent and motive of Travis McMichael.”

Prosecutors asked that the court deny McMichael’s motion.

McMichael, his father, Gregory McMicahel, and a neighbor William Bryan, who witnessed and filmed the encounter, all of whom are white, were charged with murder in the death of 25-year-old Arbery, who was chased down by the McMichaels in the pickup truck and shot to death when confronted after they spotted him running through their neighborhood in February 2020.

In a separate motion the state asked the courts to deny another request from McMichael, who was seeking to ban police bodycam footage following the shooting that showed him admitting  to a responding officer at the scene of the crime that he shot Arbery.

All the while, defense attorneys for the three men have maintained that their clients did not commit any crimes and that Arbery, who was not armed, was shot in self-defense because they thought he was a burglar.  

In addition, Arbery’s 2018 mental health records from Gateway Behavior Services were asked to be shown, in hopes the documents would help support the defense’s story that the men were engaging in self-defense and that Arbery was the aggressor.

However, on Friday, Oct. 1, Judge William R. Walmsley from the Superior Court of Glynn County Georgia ruled that Arbery’s “highly questionable” mental health records could not be used as evidence in the trial, stating, “There is no evidence that the victim was suffering from any mental health issue, or had otherwise decompensated, on February 23, 2020.”

The trial of the three men charged with killing Arbery is scheduled to start on Oct. 18.

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