Judge Explains Why Ahmaud Arbery's Accused Killers Will Remain Behind Bars As They Await Trial
A Georgia judge announced that the father and son charged in the killing of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery will remain behind bars until their trial because he says they pose a "risk" if they were to be released from jail.
A Georgia judge announced that the father and son charged in the killing of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery will remain behind bars until their trial because he says they pose a "risk" if they were to be released from jail, according to reports. After last month's two-day hearing, Chatham County Judge Timothy Walmsley explained his decision further in a court document obtained by WJXT for denying the pair bond saying that they pose a "significant risk of influencing witnesses and obstructing justice," read the letter, signed last Wednesday.
Greg McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34, are awaiting trial on felony murder charges following the Feb. 23 shooting death of Arbery, a Black man who died in the middle of a suburban neighborhood after he was shot twice in the chest while on a run, according to the autopsy report cited by The New York Times.
Video of the incident was taken by a third man, who was also charged in Arbery's death.
Greg McMichael on a separate video captured on an officer's body camera the day of the deadly shooting identified himself as a retired law enforcement officer claiming he was armed with a gun that was issued to him by the Glynn County Police Department, documents said according to WJXT.
Citing another example of the possible risk posed, Walmsley referenced a voicemail Greg allegedly made at the crime scene to standing Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson after the shooting.
In the voicemail, played by the Cobb County Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Jesse Evans during the bond hearing, Greg McMichael asked for Johnson, whom he addressed as "Jackie," to call him "as soon as you possibly can" and that he and his son had been "involved in a shooting," WJXT reported. He then says he needs "some advice" from his long-time employer.
Johnson worked as an investigator for over 20 years before he retired. A different district attorney has been assigned to the case, WJXT reported.
Walmsley called the voicemail "remarkable," adding that Greg McMichael was looking for Johnson's influence, which was ultimately unsuccessful. Greg McMichael's attorneys have denied this, CBS reported.
Walmsley continues, that after the shooting Greg McMichael may have tried to impede the investigation by asking for his daughter to delete social media posts that were a "potential source," documents said.
The McMichaels claim that they believed Arbery to be associated with several break-ins that had occurred in their neighborhood, the documents said. However, at the time of the shooting, Arbery wasn't "reliably identified," Walmsley writes. Instead, he continues, the pair had "assumed" he committed a crime. In place of calling the police, they opted to "chase" Arbery through the neighborhood in Travis' pickup truck, Walmsley asserts in the documents.
Arbery was allegedly shot three times by Travis as his father "watched from the bed of the truck" while also in possession of a loaded gun, Walmsley continued according to the document.
The video, Walmsley writes, shows "the lengths the Defendants would take to track down and restrain another person."
The McMichaels could each potentially face life in prison without the possibility of parole. They have pleaded not guilty to the charges they face. The third man charged in connection to Arbery's death has also pleaded not guilty.
Defense attorney Laura Hogue argued last month that the case was not a matter of race but about self-defense. Hogue says Arbery attacked Travis McMichael and Greg McMichael was "authorized to protect his neighborhood against crime the way he did."
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