Lawyers for the Georgia father and son duo charged with murder over the killing of Ahmaud Arbery have insisted that there was no racial motive behind the shooting, and that the men were not ‘a caricature of a Southern vigilante racism’.
Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, have been jailed since their arrests in May, more than two months after they chased and shot Arbery, a 25-year-old black man who was jogging through their Brunswick neighborhood.
A third man, William ‘Roddie’ Bryan joined in the chase in his pickup, and videotaped the end of it.
Bryan was denied bond by Judge Timothy Walmsley in July.
The McMichaels also remain in jail, and should have their bond hearings in the coming weeks.
Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, have been jailed since their arrests in May, more than two months after they chased and shot Arbery, a 25-year-old black man who was jogging through their Brunswick neighborhood
Arbery was out jogging in Brunswick on February 23 when he was spotted by Gregory McMichael, who claims he believed the 25-year-old looked like a burglary suspect
On Friday the McMichaels’ attorneys insisted that their clients were honorable men.
‘He is not a stereotype, he is not a caricature of a Southern vigilante racism that he’s been made out to be,’ said Bob Rubin of Travis McMichael.
‘He’s actually a man who’s lived a very good life, a life of helping others.’
Frank Hogue, who represents Greg McMichael, said the pair acted in defense of a neighboring property.
Hogue said Arbery had been filmed at least two times on a security video inside a house under construction a few doors down.
Arbery was shot and killed while out jogging
‘This is what was in their head,’ Hogue said.
‘Not the narrative you’re hearing: Ah, there’s a Black man running in our neighborhood. Let’s go track him down and shoot him.’ It’s far from that.’
‘This case is not about race,’ he said. ‘Mr Arbery was not targeted because he was black.’
Arbery was out jogging when he was gunned down.
All three of the accused men have pleaded not guilty.
An agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, Richard Dial, testified that Arbery may have stopped at the unfinished house to ask for water during his run.
Police found nothing from inside the home on Arbery’s body.
But Larry English, the man who owned the home under construction, had told police and neighbors he had had thousands of dollars in electronics and fishing equipment stolen from his boat in late 2019.
Jason Sheffield, Rubin’s law partner, said: ‘Is this really about water? Is it about trying to study electrical design? What is this about exactly? Has he tried to get into other people’s homes?
‘All these questions are sort of out there that we’re seeking to answer. But it’s not about an episode of jogging.’
Sheffield said that the McMichaels had confronted white people they saw entering the unfinished house, approaching them with their guns.
In the sickening footage of Arbery’s death, a shot can be heard and Arbery is seen scuffling with Travis as Arbery appears to try to get the gun away from Travis. Two more shots can be heard and are fired at point-blank range before
Arbery is seen in a video stumbling and falling to the ground after being shot as Travis McMichael stands by holding a shotgun
The legal team, in their interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, also pushed back on claims by the third man, Bryan, that Travis McMichael had said over Arbery’s dead body: ‘F****** n*****.’
They insisted that Bryan was still in his pickup truck at the time, so couldn’t possibly have heard the offensive comment.
Dial, the investigator, had also alleged that Travis McMichael used the N-word numerous times in social media posts and in messages on his cell phone in the months leading up to Arbery’s death.
In one such message, investigators say Travis once exclaimed he loved his job because he was ‘on a boat and there were not any n****** anywhere.’
In a response to an Instagram post about using violence against black people, Travis McMichael is said to have typed ‘Blow that n*****’s head off’.
Dial said after a separate search of Bryan’s phone, he was also found to have made various racist comments in messages and in posts on social media.
Dial called some of the racist statements ‘disturbing’, and said he has ‘never before come across’ some of the terms used by Bryan.
‘There’s evidence of Mr. Bryan’s racist attitude in his communications, and from that I extrapolate the reason why he made assumptions he did that day,’ Dial said.
‘He saw a man running down the road with a truck following him, and I believe he made certain assumptions that were, at least in part, based upon his racial bias.’
The attorneys, in their interview, also were at pains to point out both father and son’s life of service.
Greg McMichael enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1975, and once saved the life of a fellow sailor who got into trouble in the sea off the coast of Spain.
He then worked for the Brunswick Police Department, later becoming an investigator for the District Attorney’s office, retiring in 2019 after 24 years in law enforcement.
Travis McMichael spent nine years with the U.S. Coast Guard.
Chris Stewart, a member of the Arbery family’s legal team, declined to respond to the three lawyers’ comments.
‘We don’t have a response or even want to acknowledge their attempt at damage control,’ he said.
Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis, 34, seen in their last public court appearance on July 17 pleaded not guilty to murder and aggravated assault charges in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery
Neighbor William ‘Roddie’ Bryan Jr., 50, who took video of the killing, pleaded not guilty to murder and attempt to illegally detain and confine
Travis McMichael is pictured being taken into custody on May 7 – more than two month after the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery
Gregory and Travis McMichael face charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment