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Travis McMichael’s Attorneys Say the State Never Proved Beyond a Reasonable Doubt He Was ‘Guilty’ of Killing Ahmaud Arbery, Request a New Trial

Convicted murderer Travis McMichael says that he wants a new trial around his involvement in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. The request for the new trial comes weeks after he and his father were sentenced, on Jan. 7, to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

According to a motion obtained by Atlanta Black Star, McMichael’s lawyers contend that the prosecution did not prove that their client was guilty and that four points substantiate their claim.

Travis McMichael, left, speaks with his attorney Jason B. Sheffield, center, during his sentencing in the Glynn County Courthouse, on January 7, 2022 in Brunswick, Georgia. (Photo by Stephen B. Morton-Pool/Getty Images)

McMichael, 35, and his father Gregory McMichael, 66, were convicted on Nov. 24, 2021, of nine charges, in the February 2020 shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man jogging in their Satilla Shores community in Brunswick, Georgia.

A video, shot by their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, was used as the smoking gun in the case, showing the son shooting the unarmed man in the middle of the street. On Jan. 7, Bryan also was sentenced by Judge Timothy Walmsley; he received life in prison plus 20 additional years and no chance for parole.

McMichael’s legal defense team from the office of Peters, Rubin, Sheffield & Hodges P.A. filed the motion on Jan. 10. They want the state to set aside the verdict and sentencing because the prosecution did not show that the younger McMichael was guilty of the crime “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The attorneys also suggest that even if the state proved his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, “the evidence was sufficiently close to warrant the trial judge to exercise his discretion to grant the defendant a retrial.” 

They further charged that “the verdict is contrary to law and the principles of justice and equity,” and “The Court committed an error of law warranting a new trial.”

A new trial could cost locals hundreds of thousands of dollars. The last one, totaling the security and other expenses related to the three men’s trial, cost county taxpayers $1.8 million, The Brunswick News reports.

The money went to expenses such as overtime pay, extra sheriff’s deputies, emergency management authority officials, police and other public safety personnel who were tapped to provide additional security for one of the largest cases in Georgia’s history.

Another motion filed was by the state.

This motion was mentioned during the sentencing, asking the court to prohibit the three men from making money from this tragedy. It is proposed that should either of the three men receive compensation for telling their story in a future book or movie deal, the profits should go to the Arbery family.

Also, a motion filed on Jan. 10, by District Attorney Linda Dunikoski cites Georgia Code § 17-14-31 that says “any person or legal entity who contracts with a defendant about a reenactment of the crime, or expression of the defendant about his ‘thoughts, feelings, opinions or emotions regarding the crime,” shall submit the contract to the Broad (sic) of Corrections, for such monies to be placed in escrow for the benefit of the victim’s family.”

Bryan’s lawyer Kevin Gough opposed this motion when it was first brought up during the sentencing. The attorney stated that this would hinder the man’s ability to raise funds for his legal defense.

The Court has given no response to either motion nor has a hearing date been set. 

What stands is that all three men will face federal hate crimes charges for Arbery’s death.

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