The demands from state investigators and defense attorneys are taking their toll on the poor health of Larry English, the owner of the house under construction that Ahmaud Arbery entered moments before he was shot dead on the afternoon of Feb. 23 on a neighborhood street.
So said English in a statement released Thursday by his attorney, J. Elizabeth Graddy of Atlanta.
Additionally, English said he has reservations about an interview scheduled for Sunday with attorneys for defendants in the shooting, Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34.
“My wife and I remained wary of further attempts to use our family to spread misinformation about the slaying of Ahmaud Arbery, especially falsehoods about the victim of this crime, Mr. Arbery,” English said.
Gregory Michael and Travis McMichael armed themselves and pursued Arbery to a deadly confrontation after seeing the 25-year-old Brunswick resident enter the structure and then run down Satilla Drive, according to a police report, video and 911 transcripts. Arbery was an avid jogger who was dressed in shorts, T-shirt and running shoes that day.
Surveillance video from the English’s home, which was released to law enforcement, shows Arbery entering through an unsecured opening. He left moments later and did not take anything, according to reports.
English has told authorities he believes Arbery was doing nothing wrong that day and may have just stopped in to get a drink of water. English, who lives elsewhere in Georgia, said Thursday he has cooperated fully with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
The GBI arrested the McMichaels on murder and aggravated assault charges, just two days after taking over the investigation on May 5. But English expressed irritation with GBI investigators for taking everything stored on his cell phone after springing an “unannounced warrant” on him. English said he had volunteered to give up all information on his cell phone related to the investigation. He had requested, however, that the GBI “not seize unrelated, private information such as messages between my wife and me regarding marital and family matters.”
The GBI would not comment on English’s statement, citing the ongoing investigation.
“My wife and I have cooperated with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in its efforts to gather information about the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, making ourselves available for repeated interviews and turning over requested video footage, cell phone texts, and other items,” English said. “We view this as our duty despite the cost to us in terms of stress, which complicates my serious medical condition, and lost time from family and work.”
Additionally, English said he is weary of repeated requests for interviews from attorneys representing Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael. English said he has a “serious medical condition” and the demands on his time are creating negative health effects.
The surveillance camera English installed at the home under construction was activated to send him texts if a person entered the structure, according to media reports. After he received a text notice on Dec. 17, English called Glynn County police. According to media reports, a Glynn County officer later replied that nearby resident Gregory McMichael was a retired law enforcement officer. The officer sent McMichael’s cell phone number and suggested English could call him for a quicker response if future intrusions to the structure were detected.
Gregory McMichael was a former officer with the Glynn County Police Department and a retired investigator for the district attorney’s office, Brunswick Judcial Circuit.
English said he never contacted Gregory McMichael and only noticed the Glynn County officer’s text message after the McMichaels’ arrest. He said the extent of his contact with the two men consisted of a brief conversation with Travis McMichael, according to media reports.
English said attorneys for the McMichaels told him they would issue a subpoena, if necessary, in order to interview him. In the interest of the truth, English said he feels obligated to cooperate with McMichaels’ attorneys regardless of a subpoena. However, due to his illness, English prefers speaking with them in an out-of-court setting, he said.
The McMichaels and codefendant William “Roddie” Bryan are scheduled for a preliminary probable cause hearing at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Glynn County Magistrate Court. Bryan, who videoed the fatal shooting, is charged with felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
All three men remain in the Glynn County Detention Center.
English has strictly observed COVID-19 social distancing practices due to his health, he said.
“My wife and I have tried at every point to cooperate and we do not believe that we should refuse to cooperate in counsel’s requests for information,” he said.
“Testifying at a hearing would be more stressful than an out-of-court interview with the social distancing that I have been practicing in light of my compromised health.”
English’s statement concluded with sympathies for the victim and his family.
“We continue to pray for Ahmaud Arbery’s loved ones,” English said. “His mother is in my thoughts every day.”