This past Friday the three suspects involved in the Feb. 23 shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery were brought before Chatham County Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley, via video, for their respective arraignments.
All three men, Travis and Gregory McMichael and William Roderick Bryan Jr., entered a plea of not guilty.
The hearing was held in Glynn County Superior Court Circuit.
The men were indicted on June 24, on five counts of murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony.
During a hearing held June 4, Cobb County Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Jesse Evans said Arbery, who is black, “was chased, hunted down an ultimately executed.”
During that hearing Georgia Bureau of Investigation Assistant Special Agent in Charge Richard Dial, testified Arbery was hit prior to the shooting by the pickup truck Bryan drove during his pursuit.
Dial also testified that Bryan heard Travis McMichael call Arbery a racial slur moments after shooting him. Arbery had gunshot wounds to his chest, upper shoulder and hand.Dial said.
At last Friday’s hearing Bryan’s attorney Kevin Gough filed a series of motions on behalf of Bryan. He also challenged the court to consider that masks worn in court be context neutral.
Gough pointed out that Attorney Lee Merritt, who represents Arbery’s family, was in court wearing a mask that had the name George Floyd on it. Floyd was an unarmed Black man who died as police held him down on the ground with a knee to his neck and back for almost 9 minutes in Minnesota. His death as well as Arbery’s sparked protests across the country.
“We object,” Gough said. “If we are permitted to wear masks making political statements then Mr. Evans and I should be free to wear ‘MAGA’ masks if we want in court. And I imagine the court wouldn’t appreciate that.”
The Judge said he had not noticed the mask and overruled Gough’s objection. But Walmsley added that the court would not tolerate games and distractions and, “If anything in this court becomes disruptive it will be the court’s decision that the disruption will be dealt with. This is not a place to make a (political) statement.”
Gough also asked that bond be granted to his client saying Bryan was not a flight risk. Gough said he felt his client was at risk or exposure to COVID-19 while sitting in jail.
Judge Walmsley denied the bond request. Currently all three men remain in jail.
The GBI announced that they’ve opened a sex crimes investigation against Bryan July 15 after receiving a request to do so from the Camden County Sheriff’s Office. The case was opened based on claims made against Bryan, the GBO noted. The investigation is unrelated to the Arbery case.