GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. — The three defendants charged in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery are in court this week arguing for their release from jail.
Channel 2′s Tony Thomas is in Glynn County for the hearing, where it was an emotional day in court Friday.
Lawyers for Greg and Travis McMichael say the South Georgia father and son should be out of jail as they wait for the upcoming trial. The third defendant, Willie “Roddie” Bryan, was turned down bond once, but is trying again.
Greg and Travis McMichael face murder charges in the Feb. 23 shooting death of Arbery. The father and son pulled their truck up to a jogging Arbery and said they confronted him about recent burglary incidents in the neighborhood. As Arbery and Travis McMichael struggled in the street, Arbery was shot and killed.
Bryan trailed the men in his vehicle and recorded the shooting of Arbery. The video spread across the Internet and sparked outrage and a series of protests in Georgia and nationwide.
The grand jury indicted all three men on nine charges including malice murder. Prosecutors and investigators say race played a key role.
On Friday, as lawyers played the disturbing video in the courtroom, a member of the Arbery family broke down in tears. It was likely Arbery’s mother, who previously told Thomas she had not seen the video.
The judge repeatedly tried to keep the lawyers on point Friday.
“I’ve given you a lot of leeway, but this has become a marathon,” Judge Timothy Walmsly said.
On Thursday, lawyers tried to make the case that the McMichaels were good people and are not a flight risk. Prosecutors said they are racists and are a threat.
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Defense attorneys for the McMichaels have denied any racist motives in the shooting. The McMichaels said they just wanted to question Arbery about recent thefts in the neighborhood.
“This is just not another act of violent racism,” Frank Hogue said. “People who know better are rushing to judgement.”
Prosecutors said that Arbery was just out for a jog when the white men confronted him. They point to social media posts made by the McMichaels they say show racist attitudes.
“Do you remember Travis McMichael shooting a ‘crackhead coon with gold teeth,’” prosecutor Jesse Evans asked witness and friend of Travis McMichael, Zach Langford.
“He was referring to a racoon,” Langford said.
Leigh McMichael, who is the wife of Greg McMichael and mother of Travis, said her husband and son have ties to the community and wouldn’t try to escape the charges.
“He loves home, he loves his son, and he will stand up to his responsibility,” Leigh McMichael said of her husband. “He really wants his day in court.”
In the court filings ahead of the hearing, Travis McMichael’s lawyer laid out his ties to family and a coast guard career where he was praised for daring rescues and saving lives.
Prosecutors and Arbery’s family say none of that matters and want the McMichaels and Bryan kept behind bars.
“My son was not committing a crime. He was just running. His life shouldn’t have ended the way it ended," said Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother. “Ahmaud wasn’t allowed to go home, so them going home would be totally unfair,” Cooper said.
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