The three men accused in Ahmaud Arbery’s death are set to go to trial on murder charges this fall, but between now and then, we can expect a few motions from the defense team, including one made today that will likely be heavily contested by the public.
Defendants Gregory and Travis McMichael, and their co-defendant William “Roddie” Bryan, were in court with their attorneys today to ask the judge to allow testimony about Ahmaud’s past, specifically his criminal history. The defense says it paints the full picture about the victim’s intent on the day he died, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Despite Ahmaud being the victim in this case, the defense wants to admit testimony about 10 incidents of “prior bad acts” allegedly committed by Ahmaud. Two involve incidents that led him to plead guilty to felony charges and others involve confrontations he allegedly had with law enforcement.
The state was on its job though, objecting to the testimony, arguing that it’s irrelevant and serves only to smear Ahmaud. “You can’t claim self-defense when you started it,” said lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski.
One of the testimonies the court was asked to consider for the trial came from Rodney Ellis, chief of police for Glynn schools. Ellis testified that in 2013, Ahmaud brought a gun to a high school basketball game. He was handcuffed at gunpoint after running away from officers on two occasions, according to Ellis.
In February of 2020, Ahmaud was gunned down by the McMichaels after the father and son chased him as he was jogging because they allege they thought he was a burglar. Bryan has been named as an accomplice who aided in Ahmaud’s death.
Like many instances in which the victim’s past is brought up, the court was reminded that the victim is not the one on trial, but defense co-counsel Jason Sheffield said that introducing the testimony about past acts, and the response to them, allows jurors to see “what was going on with Ahmaud Arbery that day.”
This particular hearing is expected to last two days. The three suspects are expected to go to trial in October.
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