The three Brunswick, Ga., men charged in the February 2020 shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old Black man who was chased and killed when they suspected him of burglary, have pleaded not guilty to federal hate crimes charges.
According to CBS News, Travis McMichael, 35, his father Gregory McMichael, 65, and 51-year-old William "Roddie" Bryan, who are white, entered the plea on Tuesday (May 11) just days after a trial date on state murder charges against them was set.
In the federal case, the men were each charged with a single count of interference with rights and a count of attempted kidnapping, CBS News reported.
"This is the actual first time that we have actually been in the same courtroom with the people who are responsible for killing Ahmaud," Thea Brooks, Arbery's aunt, told CNN. "It's hard being in a room with people that, you know, that's taken your loved one.”
According to reports, the McMichaels, who suspected that Arbery was a burglar, followed Arbery, 25, in their truck as he jogged his normal route through the Satilla Shores community near Brunswick, Ga., Feb. 23, 2020.
They confronted him, but the younger McMichael pulled a rifle on him and the two men got into a struggle over the firearm which ended with McMichael firing at Arbery and killing him. The incident was recorded on a cellphone belonging to Bryan who allegedly participated in the events which caused Arbery’s death, according to a police report.
The McMichaels weren’t arrested and charged for more than two months after Arbery was killed. They were taken into custody in May 2020, Bryan was arrested and charged weeks later. He is also currently under investigation for sex crimes in an unrelated case
In the state case, all three men face malice and felony murder, aggravated assualt, false imprisonment and a criminal attempt to commit a felony. In April, the Department of Justice announced that three men have also been indicted on hate crime and attempted kidnapping charges.
According to the Associated Press, on Tuesday (May 7), Georgie Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley said the trial will begin in October with jury selection starting Oct. 18. As soon as the jury is approved, the trial will commence.
“We are eager to finally have an opportunity to fairly disclose the full truth about the circumstances and the events that led up to this incredible tragedy,” Jason Sheffield, one of Travis McMichael’s defense lawyers told the AP last week.
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