The father and son charged with murder months after the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery have appeared before a Georgia judge Thursday, following a week of angry protests in the U.S. over law enforcement biases against black victims.
Greg McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34, appeared before Glynn County Magistrate Judge Wallace E. Harrell via video link from the Glyn County Jail on Thursday morning.
The neighbor who filmed the video, 50-year-old William 'Roddie' Bryan, who was also arrested and charged with felony murder and illegally using a vehicle to try to confine and detain Arbery, is due to appear as well.
The probable cause hearing was scheduled by Judge Harrell to determine whether authorities have enough evidence of murder in Arbery's killing to send the case to a trial court.
Arbery was killed February 23 after a white father and son armed themselves and gave chase when they spotted the 25-year-old black man running in their neighborhood just outside the port city of Brunswick.
It wasn't until May 7 that the McMichaels were charged with felony murder and aggravated assault. The McMichaels' arrests came two days after cellphone video of the shooting leaked online and stirred a national outcry.
Greg McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34, appeared before Glynn County Magistrate Judge Wallace E. Harrell via video link on Thursday morning
Ahmaud Arbery was killed February 23 after a white father and son armed themselves and gave chase when they spotted the 25-year-old black man running in their neighborhood just outside the port city of Brunswick
Georgia law defines felony murder as a killing caused by the commission of an underlying felony. It does not require intent to kill. The minimum penalty is life in prison with a chance of parole.
Largely peaceful protests following the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, and Arbery have led to outbreaks of violence in many larger cities, including Atlanta. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp promised a 'strong state law enforcement presence' in the Brunswick area Thursday to coincide with the court hearing.
A large group of Arbery supporters have gathered outside the courtroom to peacefully protest while the hearing is underway, calling for 'Justice for Ahmaud'. The demonstrators are accompanied by a large police presence.
Greg McMichael told police after the shooting in February that he suspected Arbery of committing break-ins in the neighborhood. He said Arbery attacked his son before being shot.
Arbery's family has said he was merely out jogging. The former high school football player ran to stay in shape and lived less than 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) from the subdivision where he was killed. His mother said he planned to start technical college in the fall to become an electrician.
Defense attorneys for both McMichaels have said much remains unknown about what led to the shooting and have cautioned against rushing to judgment. An attorney for Bryan has said he was merely a witness to Arbery's death.
All three defendants remain jailed in Glynn County. A different judge will have to decide whether to allow them to go free on bond.