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Pre-trial hearing for 3 men charged for killing Ahmaud Arbery

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 5:04 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 22, 2021 at 4:35 PM EDT
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BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WTOC) - Tense moments in court as attorneys argued over what evidence a jury will hear in the murder trial of three men charged in the death of Ahmaud Arbery.

Arbery was shot and killed in 2020 in a Brunswick neighborhood after three men chased him in vehicles.

The shooter Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael and the man who recorded a cell phone video of the shooting, William “Roddie” Bryan, are expected to go before a jury on Oct. 18 on malice murder charges.

As Judge Timothy Walmsley stated, the point of Thursday’s conference is to make sure everything is on track for that October trial date. They covered a lot of topics Thursday, but the prosecution and defense do not agree at all about what should be allowed into court.

The judge didn’t finalize a lot, but we did get an idea of how long it could take to pick a jury. One of the defense attorneys said she anticipated it could take at least two weeks.

They argued over body camera footage from officers who responded to the shooting. Also statements all three defendants made on that day and months later.

The judge says he will schedule another hearing to see if the jury should hear or see all that evidence.

Defense attorneys also asked to keep the media out of the jury selection process. That process historically is open to the public, including media.

The defense said they’re worried about potential jurors being afraid to answer questions and express their real opinions since this case has been all over the news.

The judge says he knows court can be a lot for jurors to handle all at once.

“There are circumstances, cases that this court has been involved in, where jury selection does become very confusing for prospective jurors. Questions, as clear as we lawyers think we speak, can be very confusing for jurors coming into a courtroom, that have never been here,” said Judge Walmsley.

The judge pointed out that potential jurors are allowed to sidebar, which is a side discussion only with attorneys and the judge, if they feel uncomfortable.

The defense and an attorney representing several news outlets say they will work on an agreement.

The most heated exchange was about whether witnesses could use legal terms to describe what happened that day. Terms such as burglary, theft, and carjacking.

Remember, the defense has said the three suspects acted under Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law and says they acted in self-defense during a struggle before Travis McMichael shot and killed Arbery.

Bryan’s attorney, Kevin Gough, appeared to imply that Arbery was trying to carjack Bryan as Bryan chased Arbery through the Satilla Shores neighborhood in a vehicle.

“Your honor, allow me to be crystal clear. The defendant, Mr. Bryan, hit Mr. Arbery with his truck. That’s why his palm prints on it. That is why his t-shirt fibers are on it. Because he assaulted him with a 5,000-pound lethal weapon known as a pickup truck,” prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said.

Judge Walmsley said he will schedule time after Sept. 1 to settle the issue of what evidence will be allowed in front of a jury.

A full timeline of the case can be found below:

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