ATLANTA (CN) — A Georgia judge on Friday denied bond to two white men accused of murdering Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in February.
At the close of a two-day hearing, Chatham County Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley rejected motions for bond filed by Travis McMichael and his father, retired police detective Greg McMichael.
The McMichaels and another man, William “Roddie” Bryan, are charged with malice and felony murder for the Feb. 23 shooting death of 25-year-old Arbery. Bryan, who filmed the shooting on his phone, was denied bond in July.
Arbery was jogging through a neighborhood just outside Brunswick, Georgia, when Travis and Greg McMichael began chasing him in a white pick-up truck. The men claimed they believed Arbery had committed a burglary in the area.
Defense attorneys Robert Rubin and Laura Hogue argued Friday that the McMichaels were within their rights under Georgia’s private citizen’s arrest statute when they chased Arbery.
Rubin, one of the attorneys representing Travis McMichael, told the judge that his client was acting in self-defense when he shot Arbery three times with a shotgun, killing him in the street. Arbery was unarmed.
“Travis didn’t pose a danger on the 23rd, the danger came from Mr. Arbery,” Rubin said.
Hogue echoed Rubin’s arguments, telling the Walmsley that Greg McMichael was “authorized to protect his neighborhood against crime the way he did.”
No evidence has been presented to show that Arbery was guilty of anything.
Rejecting arguments that the McMichaels should receive bond due to their close community ties and lack of prior criminal activity, the judge agreed with prosecutors that the men “appeared to take the law into their own hands.”
Prosecutor Jesse Evans argued Friday that the McMichaels did not present any evidence showing that they are “good candidates” for bond.
“Today is not a day to give out gold stars for past good deeds,” Evans said, telling Walmsley that the father and son present a danger to people, property and the community.
Evans also argued that the McMichaels’ “world views” are “significant in terms of their danger” to the community, referring to evidence presented Thursday showing that Travis McMichael wrote a text message to a friend and made social media posts containing racial slurs.
A Georgia Bureau of Investigation special agent testified at a preliminary hearing in June that Bryan overhead Travis McMichael calling Arbery a “fucking nigger” as he stood over the dying man.
Rubin dismissed Travis’s questionable social media posts as “private, offensive messages between friends” and said his client is “an asset” to the community, not a danger.
The McMichaels’ social media activity became a major sticking point during arguments Thursday and Friday, with Evans pointing to multiple jail calls from Greg McMichael to his wife in which he encouraged her to delete the family’s Facebook accounts.
Evans presented evidence Friday of a Facebook post on Greg McMichael’s page containing an image from Identity Dixie, a known hate group which is currently being monitored by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“Make it disappear, make it go away,” Greg McMichael said in a May 16 jail call to his wife which was played in the courtroom Friday. He was referring to a post made by his daughter, Lindsay, of a photo taken at the crime scene.
Hogue said Greg McMichael’s social media posts are not representative of his character.
“He’s not a perfect man,” she said. “No one is.”
Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, expressed satisfaction with Walmsley’s decision Friday, telling reporters outside the Glynn County Courthouse: “Today was a good day.”
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