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What to expect in the next hearing in Ahmaud Arbery murder case

Arraignment Friday for men accused in deadly shooting of Ahmaud Arbery

GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. – The three South Georgia men accused of felony murder in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, will go back before a judge next Thursday to ask to be released from jail.

The men, Travis McMichael, 34, his father Gregory McMichael, 64 and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, were charged in May with murder and aggravated assault two days after a graphic video of the shooting of Arbery became public, two months after he was killed.

The video showing Arbery’s death, which was posted to a South Georgia radio station’s website, sparked nationwide outrage and brought new scrutiny to how the case was handled.

Court documents on Thursday showed, along with bail, defense attorneys for the McMichaels will request the judges throw out the malice murder and false imprisonment charges in the indictment.

Prosecutors in the case could also bring up on Thursday’s hearing their notice to bring in evidence of alleged racial videos, text messages and social media posts by the McMichaels and Bryan.

An exhibit from a previous bond hearing for Bryan shows 22 pages worth of messages from Bryan’s phone where he repeatedly used racial slurs.

In one message from January 2019 Bryan wrote: “Working so all the n****** can take off! Happy MLK day!”

Cobb County Assistant District Attorney, and lead prosecutor on the Arbery case, Jesse Evans said the evidence of racial messages is relevant because of an ongoing federal investigation.

“The purpose of going into some of the evidence that we acquired with them, particularly from social media and from text messages is to show that there is an active investigation, which is public, by the Department of Justice into potential civil rights crimes. And that becomes important because any evidence that we found that tends to support that might be considered by the court as to whether there’s a risk of committing new crimes or risk of flight,” said Evans.

It’s unclear when the case will go to trial.

In Georgia, courts are still under judicial emergency which restricts jury trials.

Arbery’s mother says she is trusting in God as the hearings in her son’s case continue.

“Just trying to gather strength. It’s going to be hard, but it’s something I must go through. Trying to get myself prepared. My heart prepared,” Jones said.

About the Author:

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