The three accused white men in the February shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery pled not guilty of murder charges on Friday (June 17), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported.
Father and son, Gregory and Travis McMichael and their neighbor William Bryan waived formal arraignment and each of them appeared via livestream in front of a Glynn County, Ga., judge.
The McMichaels followed Arbery, 26, who was jogging through his neighborhood in Brunswick, Ga., believing he had burglarized a home construction site and confronted him. Arbery and Travis McMichael got into a scuffle in which they wrestled over McMichel’s gun, which discharged a fatal shot. Bryan had followed them recording the incident.
Each of the men are charged with malice and felony murder. Their lawyers maintain their innocence. They also have filed a motion demanding that Cobb County district attorney Joyette Holmes, who is a Black woman, be removed from the case, arguing her appointment was illegal.
The case has cycled through three different prosecutors, beginning with Glynn County prosecutor Jackie Johnson who recused herself due to conflicts of interest, as did Ware County prosecutor George Barnhill. The case also landed on the desk of Tom Durden, Liberty County D.A., who recommended that the case go to a grand jury. Holmes, a Republican, was placed on the case May 11.
At a preliminary hearing in Glynn County for the three, Brunswick, Georgia men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery, a law enforcement investigator testified that one of them stood over his body after shooting him and said, “f**king n**ger.”
"I believe Mr. Arbery was being pursued, and he ran till he couldn't run anymore, and it was turn his back to a man with a shotgun or fight with his bare hands against the man with the shotgun," said Georgia Bureau of Investigations special agent-in-charge Richard Dial. He chose to fight." he said. "I believe Mr. Arbery's decision was to just try to get away."
McMichaels' mugshot courtesy of Glynn County Detention Center; CNN screenshot.