Attorneys for the two men charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery want to use evidence of his criminal record during their murder trial.
Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael believed Arbery was a burglar after they saw him in footage of a nearby home. When they noticed him jogging in the neighborhood, they hopped in their white pickup truck to catch up with him and confront him about a series of break-ins that previously took place in the area. A struggle ensued over a firearm amid the encounter, and Arbery was fatally shot as he attempted to break away.
Defense attorneys claim they shot Arbery in self-defense. Video of the gunfire was recorded by neighbor William Bryan who accompanied the McMichaels during their pursuit.
The McMichaels and Bryan now face four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, malice murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment, to which they pleaded not guilty. They are preparing to stand trial and are seeking the judge’s approval to use evidence of Arbery’s past arrests.
According to ABC News, the McMichaels — who attorneys mentioned have a clean record — appeared in court on Wednesday (May 12) and asked the judge for permission to present evidence from his 10 past incidents, which include “theft crimes.”
Arbery pleaded guilty for robbing a TV from Walmart in 2017 and for his gun possession on a high school campus four years prior. They believe that the evidence shows his “angry and aggressive” behavior during encounters with police and other authority figures.
“His intent and his motive is something that is central to this case,” Travis’ lawyer Jason Sheffield told the judge.
Prosecutors argued that Arbery’s past should be kept out of the case, noting that the suspects chased, confronted and fired the bullets that killed the late man before they were aware of his record. “It doesn’t matter what Mr. Arbery’s thoughts were... It doesn’t matter what his actions were,” prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said. “He was running away from these men.”
Jury selection for the trial will start on Oct. 18.