Defense team asks judge to approve use of Ahmaud Arbery’s past, mental history in state trial

GLYNN, Ga. — The lawyers representing the three men who killed Ahmaud Arbery spent hours making their case to the judge about which parts of Arbery’s past should play a role in the state’s trial this fall.

The McMichaels said they believed Arbery was a suspect in a series of break-ins. Arbery’s family said he was jogging through a Glynn County neighborhood.

Arbery was killed in February 2020 after he was chased down by Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan.

The defense called a number of witnesses to talk about their previous interaction with Arbery.

This includes:

  • Chief Rod Ellis of the Glynn County Schools Police to talk about an incident in 2013. Today in the courtroom, he described an incident where he responded to a call involving Arbery bringing a gun to a high school campus.
  • Officer Robert Mydell testified he was called to Walmart in 2017 because Arbery was accused of stealing a television.
  • Officer Mike Kanago described a 2017 incident to the judge in which he approached Arbery to ask him about why his car was parked in a weird spot. The office said he approached Arbery because the neighborhood his car was parked in was known for “specific activity, drugs.”
  • Sheriff Sgt. Jerry Jones told the judge he served a trespass warning to Arbery in 2018.
  • Ms. Wilson, an assistant manager at a Love’s, claimed Arbery shoplifted eight times prior to his death.

The defense told the judge they don’t want to admit previous acts or incidents “for bad character,” but they said it’s “fundamental to the case” and for jurors to hear.

One of the attorneys representing the Arbery family explained what he believes is the motive of the defense.

“I don’t think any of this comes in. I think they know that because the rules of evidence are fairly clear. I think the goal is, ‘The world is watching. Let’s put as much dirt out there and hope it sticks to the wall,’” said attorney Lee Merritt.

“They’re trying to make it like he’s on trial, but he ain’t. He lost his life for nothing!” said Marcus Arbery, Ahmaud Arbery’s father.

Other noteworthy pretrial motions the judge heard today include whether Cobb County prosecutors should be removed from the case.

Day two of pretrial motions are set to continue at the Glynn County Courthouse on Thursday.