Prosecutors want ‘racial’ texts, posts used as evidence in Ahmaud Arbery case

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – New court filings in the Ahmaud Arbery case show state attorneys want “racial” text messages and Facebook posts from the men facing murder charges in Arbery’s death to be considered at trial.

The death of Arbery, 25, has sparked nationwide outrage after cellphone video of the teen being chased down and shot to death in a neighborhood near Brunswick, Georgia, was published online.

RELATED: 3 men indicted on felony murder charges in death of Ahmaud Arbery

Travis McMichael and Gregory McMichael, a father and son, have been charged with murder and aggravated assault. William ‘Roddie’ Bryan, the Georgia man whose cellphone video captured the shooting, has also been charged in Arbery’s death.

RELATED: Retracing the moments leading up to the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery

In early October, the special prosecutor’s office handling the case notified the court it intends to bring to trial evidence of racial slurs posted on social media and sent in text messages by all three men. The messages and post are all dated from 2019, including a racial highway video and racial messages extracted from William “Roddie” Bryan’s phone.

The state also notified the court that it intends to bring up Greg McMichael’s police accreditation suspensions. Records revealed back in May the retired district attorney investigator spent eight years of his career in law enforcement without police powers.

The court document says the admission of the other acts of evidence is “intrinsic evidence” and is submitted for "the purpose of showing proof of motive and/or lack of motive, intent, to explain conduct, and/or absence of mistake, accident, justification, good character or racial goodwill.

Jacksonville Attorney Gene Nichols, who is not affiliated with the case, explained that special prosecutors will next have to convince a judge to allow the evidence to be presented at trial.

“The interesting part about what they are seeking to present, if they’re not required to show any sort of racial element as to the basis for their homicide charges in this case or any other charge, then the court is going to have to weigh: Does this evidence tend to prove some form of intent or motive in order to get it in? Or, on the contrary, is it’s so prejudicial to the defendant, that it should not be admitted into evidence?” Nichols said.

Richard Dial, a special agent with GBI and the lead investigator in the case, testified at the preliminary hearing on June 4 that Travis McMichael was overheard using a racial slur moments after shooting Arbery.

Dial said in court Roddie Bryan told law enforcement he heard McMichael say “f****** n*****” after shooting Ahmaud Arbery three times and prior to police arriving on the scene.

Dial was asked if there is evidence Travis McMichael used the N-word before and he responded, “Yes, sir, many times.”

“One particular one that comes to mind was he made the statement that he loved his job because he’s out on a boat and there aren’t any N-words anywhere,” Dial testified June 4.

Dial also said McMichael responded it would have been better if someone had “blown the f****** n****** head off” in response to an unspecified Instagram post.

The attorney for Travis McMichael said he could not provide a comment at this time. The next hearing in the case is set to happen in November.

About the Author:

Kelly Wiley, an award-winning investigative reporter, joined the News4Jax I-Team in June 2019.