Arbery’s mental health records can’t be used at trial, judge says

Ahmaud Arbery, Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael
Ahmaud Arbery, Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael(WRDW)
Published: Oct. 1, 2021 at 3:10 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. - A Georgia judge has ruled that Ahmaud Arbery’s mental health records can’t be used as trial evidence by the men who chased and killed him.

The decision Friday by Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley further limits defense attorneys’ efforts to portray Arbery as an aggressive young man with a troubled past when the case goes to trial later this month.

Prosecutors say the 25-year-old Black man was merely jogging on Feb. 23, 2020, when white father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael armed themselves and chased Arbery with help from a neighbor.

A widely circulated video showed Travis McMichael fatally shooting Arbery as they grappled over a shotgun.

The judge ruled that Arbery’s right to medical privacy, even in death, trumps the accused men’s right to a robust defense.

Arbery has family ties to the CSRA and is buried near Waynesboro.

His slaying sparked a series of protests of killings of Black people, especially by police officers. Gregory McMichael is a former police officer, and the case wasn’t prosecuted for weeks until the Georgia Bureau of Investigation stepped in. The district attorney at the time has now been charged with shielding the McMichaels.

The slaying also led to changes in the state’s citizen arrest law, which has been cited by the McMichaels as justification for their involvement. They allege they thought he was a prowler.

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