Bond hearing for Arbery defendants to continue Friday

    Travis McMichael and his father Greg McMichael are charged with murder in the Feb. 23 shooting death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. Contributed by Glynn County Sheriff's Office

    After a long day in court, a bond hearing for two of the white men charged with the murder of Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery went into recess Thursday without a decision from the judge. The hearing will resume Friday at 10 a.m.

    Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan each face nine counts on charges including malice murder and felony murder. The hearing dealt with requests for bond for the McMichaels.

    The judge previously denied bond for Bryan.

    Arbery was jogging through the white mens’ neighborhood in February when they pursued him in pickup trucks. They suspected him of recent alleged break-ins.

    Video shows Travis McMichael confronting Arbery, the two men struggling, and McMichael shooting Arbery with a shotgun.

    During several hours of testimony, witnesses for the defense spoke to Travis McMichael’s character, saying that they did not believe he was likely to leave the area or intimidate witnesses if released on bond. They said he would not leave his young son behind.

    “He wants his day in court,” said Lee McMichael, Travis’s mother and Greg’s wife.

    Prosecutors also read aloud racist messages that McMichael exchanged with one of the witnesses, Zachary Langford. In one message, McMichael used a slur for Black people.

    After reviewing the messages, Langford testified that McMichael “was referring to a raccoon, I believe.”

    Friends of both Gregory and Travis McMichael testified they were willing to offer their property as security against a bond, should the men be released.

    A cardiologist for Greg McMichael also testified that he suffers from coronary disease and previously had a stroke. He said McMichael is at risk for another stroke or coronary event.

    Following the defense witnesses, Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, read a statement to the court urging the judge to deny the bond request. She refuted the witnesses’ characterization of the McMichaels as good men.

    “In their selfish minds, they think that they’re the good guys,” she said. “These men refused to let [Ahmaud] go home. They should not go home now.”

    On Friday, prosecutors are set to present a large swath of evidence, including social media posts and messaging history. They also plan to play clips of police body camera footage recorded at the scene of the shooting.

    The hearing is also scheduled to deal with several motions that the lawyers for both sides have filed.

    Those include a request by the prosecutors for the Court to look into possible conflicts of interest among the defense attorneys. The motion points to evidence that the separate lawyers for Travis and Greg McMichael are working closely together.

    The judge is also hearing motions from the defense team to quash some of the charges.

    This story appears in the Georgia Recorder through a partnership with Georgia Public Broadcasting.

    Emily Jones
    Based in Savannah, Emily Jones hosts Morning Edition across the state and reports on all things coastal. Before coming to GPB, she studied broadcast journalism at the Columbia Journalism School and urban history at Brown University.