Georgia Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley ruled on Friday (October 1) that Ahmaud Arbery’s mental health records could not be used as trial evidence.
According to ABC News, Walmsley states that Arbery’s medical diagnosis is not to be a factor in the trial scheduled to begin soon. “There is no evidence that the victim was suffering from any mental health issue, or had otherwise decompensated, on February 23, 2020,” the date of Arbery’s death.
Furthermore, Walmsley said a registered nurse’s diagnosis of Arbery’s mental illness was “highly questionable.” The 2018 visit was his first and only to a mental health service provider. Two months ago, he also noted that Arbery’s two prior arrests by law enforcement were off limits.
Unarmed Arbery was jogging just outside the city of Brunswick in Glynn County on the aforementioned date. It was then that armed father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael chased Arbery in a pickup truck. Neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan joined in on the chase and recorded the fatal shooting of Arbery on his cellphone. In the video, Arbery can be seen throwing punches and attempting to grab McMichael’s shotgun. Arbery was shot and killed within close range by three blasts of the shotgun by Travis McMichael.
On May 5, more than two months later, video of the shooting was leaked online and led to the arrest murder charges of the McMichael’s. Georgia’s Bureau of Investigation (GBI) quickly arrested all three men the next day after the leaking of the footage and taking over the case.
The defense for the McMichael's and Bryan argue that the three men committed no crimes and that they suspected Arbery was a burglar. Video cameras in the confines of a home under construction led the men to believe such. Travis McMichael’s lawyer argues that he used self-defense when shooting Arbery.
Both Travis McMichael and Bryan’s defense team disagree with the judge’s ruling.
McMichael’s attorney said via email, “the full truth will come out over the course of trial and that the jury will see this case is simply about protecting one’s neighbors and oneself.” Bryan’s lawyer said in email, “we anticipate that the court will reconsider its ruling in whole or in part in the weeks to come.”
Jury selection for the trial is scheduled for Oct. 18.