A Georgia judge has denied bail to the father and son charged in the killing of Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery, who authorities say was hit with a car and gunned down in a predominantly white neighborhood.
Travis McMichael, 34, and his father, Gregory McMichael, 65, are awaiting trial for the Feb. 23 killing, which was captured on video by a third man, William Bryan, who has also been charged with murder. A hearing was held last week on whether the father and son should be released on bail.
Arbery’s mother was in the courtroom and spoke against the release of the McMichaels. “These men are proud of what they’ve done, and they want to go home because in their selfish minds, they think that they’re the good guys,” she said. “I continue to suffer mentally and emotionally while I wait for justice for my son," said Wanda Cooper-Jones.
As prosecutors played the video of her son's shooting, Cooper-Jones wailed in court. It was the first time she had seen the footage, she said.
Prosecutor Jesse Evans read messages in court that he said were written by Travis McMichael, who authorities have said shot Arbery three times. Evans said the younger McMichael had once used an anti-Asian slur on Facebook and had sent a text message about shooting somebody using a racial slur.
In a previous hearing, a state investigator testified Travis McMichael uttered the N-word as the 25-year-old lay dying on the pavement.
Judge Timothy Walmsley said he was significantly concerned about Travis McMichael’s bias.
The three white men were indicted in June. All have pleaded not guilty. Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes announced then that the charges included malice murder, felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
"This is another step forward in seeking justice for Ahmaud. Our team from the Cobb Judicial Circuit has been committed to effectively bringing forward the evidence in this case, and today was no exception," Holmes said at the time. .
The murder investigation of Arbery had stalled for weeks before video surfaced of his death and immediately went viral, prompting protests and outrage from Black community leaders, celebrities and residents across the country.
His death, like the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, has become a rallying cry against brutality and racism in street demonstrations throughout America and beyond.
Georgia Assistant Special Agent in Charge Richard Dial testified in a preliminary hearing that William Bryan, who shot video of the deadly encounter, told investigators that Travis McMichael called Arbery a "'F*****g n****r" after hitting the man three times with shotgun blasts.
Dial's testimony contained several new allegations, including that Bryan, a neighbor of the McMichaels, hit Arbery with his truck as the three chased Arbery, with the McMichaels in one vehicle and Bryan in another.
George McMichael initially said his son opened fire after being violently attacked by Arbery, police said.
State investigators took over the case in May as pressure mounted for arrests in the case. Local police interviewed the three after the shooting and released them without charges. Local district attorneys recused themselves, with one recommending no charges in the case. George McMichael, a former cop, was a veteran investigator in their department.
Two days after joining the investigation, state agents arrested the McMichaels on murder charges. Bryan's arrest followed. In an interview before his arrest, Bryan claimed he was merely a witness, and not a participant, in Arbery's death.