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Trial in Ahmaud Arbery’s death begins in Glynn County

Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 4:51 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 5, 2021 at 9:39 AM EDT
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GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Opening statements will begin inside the Glynn County courthouse Friday as three men stand trial for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.

Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan are on trial for what happened in the Satilla Shores neighborhood on February 23, 2020. The men admitted to chasing down 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery in their trucks, shooting and killing him.

The McMichaels said they suspected Arbery of burglary, so they went after him to make a citizen’s arrest. Bryan joined the chase and allegedly hit Arbery with his truck.

Then Travis McMichael says he shot Arbery in self-defense. All three men have pleaded not guilty.

But before attorneys have their chance to setup their cases for the jury, the judge overseeing the trial is finalizing how the trial will work. Some of these decisions will affect what evidence the jury will hear at trial.

Meanwhile, outside the courthouse, a march with dozens of demonstrators on the eve of opening statements wound through the streets of Brunswick.

The group was a mix of social justice advocates, church leaders and members of the Arbery family, all joining together to send this message to the community.

“The message we want to send is the racism here, and how it affects us socioeconomically, how it affects us in our judicial system,” said Kanisha Jones, participating in march.

Another marcher WTOC spoke to believes that’s a message the community is ready to hear.

“I feel like a lot of us are. And we’re becoming more and more so the more we learn,” said Kim Merck, participating in march.

The marchers stopped at a mural of Ahmaud Arbery for a moment of reflection and prayer before continuing on.

“We’re just very appreciative for the turnout that’s here, for the diversity that’s here, and that people care and don’t feel like, oh, those underrepresented, underserved people again,” Jones said.

“It’s time for a change, and we’ve all got to be involved in the change,” Merck said.

This is just the latest peaceful demonstration since the trial began, and we’re told local clergy will also offer a few words Friday morning before opening statements begin.

Motion hearings

Motion hearings wrapped up Thursday evening.

We’ve learned that portions of the cell phone video of the deadly shooting that was released by Bryan will be shown to the jury.

Perhaps one of the biggest developments happened toward the end of the day when Judge Timothy Walmsley revealed one of the twelve jurors would not be on the panel.

Identified by her number, the judge said the woman called this morning to say she couldn’t be on the jury because of a debilitating injury that she has to take pain medicine for. So now, one of the four alternates will be called up to fill her place. The new juror is a white woman.

As for the motions considered Thursday, the judge denied several motions from the defense and said he wanted more time to think about others. Motions like the defense bringing up Ahmaud Arbery’s toxicology results. Outside the courthouse, Arbery family advocates voiced their frustration over the arguments being made by the defense.

“I think that watching the arguments today on the motions, it’s clear that the defense cannot let go of their efforts to paint Mr. Arbery, Ahmaud Arbery, in whatever light… the worst light they can find,” said Barbara Arnwine, Transformative Justice Coalition.

Attorneys for Travis McMichael and Greg McMichael declined to comment over the lunch break Thursday about the morning motions. Again, opening statements begin Friday morning after the jurors are sworn in.

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