Attorneys for the father and son accused of murder in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery do not want the 25-year-old unarmed man who died on a neighborhood street referred to as a “victim” during court proceedings.
Attorneys for Gregory McMichael, 65, and Travis McMichael, 34, filed a motion Thursday in Glynn County Superior Court asking that prosecutors be forbidden from referring to Arbery as a victim. The defense attorneys want to prevent prosecutors from referring to Arbery as a victim “at trial, during jury selection, or in the presence of witnesses,” the motion said.
No date has been set for the trial. However, after a 10-month absence due to COVID-19 pandemic concerns, jury trials are slated to resume in Georgia and at the Glynn Count Courthouse later this month.
Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael armed themselves, got in a pickup truck and pursued Arbery after seeing him running down a street in the Satilla Shores on Feb 23, 2020. A chase ensued throughout the neighborhood for several minutes before the younger McMichael fatally shot Arbery three times with buckshot as the two struggled for control of McMichael’s shotgun.
The deadly shooting was recorded by a third pursuer, William “Roddie” Bryan, 50, who also faces murder charges for his alleged role in the incident.
The McMichaels said they armed themselves and chased Arbery down in a pickup truck because they suspected him of burglary.
The McMichaels and Bryan all have pleaded not guilty.
All three have been denied bond and remain in the Glynn County Detention Center.
Attorneys for the McMichaels say referring to Arbery as a victim implies guilt on behalf of their clients before any verdict is rendered.
“Use of terms such as ‘victim’ allows the focus to shift to the accused rather than remain on the proof of every element of the crimes charged,” attorneys stated in the motion. “Working from the premise that an accused is innocent until proven guilty, it is the prosecution’s burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the essential elements of the crime.”
Attorneys for the McMichaels also filed a motion seeking to exclude as evidence all recorded calls made by the two men from the Glynn County Detention Center.
The motion notes that all inmate calls from the jail are recorded and that District Attorney prosecutors have access to the recordings.
Details in phone conversations that Gregory McMichael made from jail were used during a November bond hearing.
Attorneys Robert G. Rubin and Jason B. Sheffield of Decatur represent Travis McMichael; Franklin J. Hogue and Laura D. Hogue of Macon represent Gregory McMichael.
Jesse Evans, an assistant prosecutor with the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office, is leading the prosecution.