The three men who were charged with murder in the Ahmaud Arbery case have pleaded not guilty to federal hate crime charges. Greg McMichael, Travis McMichael and William Bryan entered their pleas during their arraignment in federal court on Tuesday (May 11). The suspects also asked to be represented by public defenders.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the charges, which were read aloud by U.S. Magistrate Benjamin Cheesbro, claim the men “did willfully, by force and threat of force, injure, intimidate, and interfere with Ahmaud Arbery, an African American man, because of his race and color.”
The prosecution said they are prepared to hand over evidence and the complete Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) case file to the defense within the next week.
The McMichaels and Bryan were already facing murder charges from the state after they shot and killed Ahmaud as he jogged through a Georgia neighborhood on Feb. 23, 2020. Gregory and his son Travis took their firearms and jumped into their truck to follow the Black jogger, after believing he was a suspect in a string of robberies that allegedly took place in the area.
Soon after, there was a struggle over the firearm and he was shot and killed. Bryan recorded the incident and authorities believe he used his pickup truck to try to trap Arbery. They also say he struck him with the vehicle to stop him from fleeing.
Before the shooting, Arbery was seen on home surveillance walking into a home that was under construction. However, there is no evidence to support that he ever stole anything from the property.
Authorities believe the suspects have a history of racism and targeted Arbery because he was Black. Last fall, prosecutors presented evidence in court showing that Travis used racial slurs multiple times while talking to a friend online. Bryan allegedly told investigators that Travis used the N-word as he stood next to Arbery’s dead body moments after the shooting.
The three men are set to stand trial in October for the state case. They are each charged with nine counts — four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, malice murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.