3 Men Charged With Killing Ahmaud Arbery Plead Not Guilty to Federal Hate Crimes

Three men pleaded not guilty to federal hate crimes in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.
From left, Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael, and William "Roddie" Bryan Jr. Handout

The three Georgia men pleaded not guilty in federal court to hate crimes. All are facing state murder charges in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.

Three Georgia men have pleaded not guilty to federal hate crimes charges in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was chased and shot to death as he jogged through the white defendants' suburban neighborhood.

Travis McMichael, 35, his father, Gregory McMichael, 65, and 51-year-old William "Roddie" Bryan Jr. already face state murder charges. They were indicted on April 28 by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Georgia. 

They entered their not guilty pleas on Tuesday before a U.S. magistrate judge in Brunswick. Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley said their state trial is scheduled for October. Walmsley began hearing pre-trial motions in the case this week.

“We know justice is closer,” Marcus Arbery Sr., the victim's father, told reporters outside the federal courthouse.

The three men are federally charged with violating Arbery's civil rights, as well as attempted kidnapping for allegedly using their trucks and guns to try to detain him. The McMichaels were also charged with using firearms in the commission of a crime.

Tuesday's hearing was the first time Arbery's family were in the same courtroom as the defendants. “There was a moment where I wanted to break down, but I remained strong,” said Thea Brooks, Arbery's aunt. "It’s hard being in a room with people that you know have taken your loved one from you.”

The father and son face murder and aggravated assault charges in Georgia state court. Both men were arrested in May 2020 — more than two months after the shooting death — after video of the incident went viral.

Bryan, who filmed the incident and is accused of hitting Arbery with his truck, was charged in Georgia with criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment and felony murder.

All three have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them and are in custody pending trial. The men have denied any wrongdoing and said they pursued Arbery because they thought he was a burglar. Attorneys for the McMichaels have said Travis fired his shotgun three times in self-defense as he struggled with Arbery over the weapon.

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