Glynn County

Timeline: The investigation into the killing of Ahmaud Arbery

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — It’s been more than a year since the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in a Brunswick, Ga., neighborhood on Feb. 23, 2020.

The video of Arbery’s shooting and death spread across the internet in April, leading to an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation not only into the shooting, but how prosecutors handled the case.

A grand jury indicted father and son Greg and Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan on nine charges including malice murder. The indictment formally charges all three men with malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.

Here is a timeline of events from the past year and what we know so far about the case and trial.

Feb. 23, 2020: Ahmaud Arbery is shot and killed while jogging in a Brunswick neighborhood.

Feb. 23-26, 2020: The Brunswick News reports on the shooting and first Glynn County police investigation.

Feb. 27, 2020: Brunswick District Attorney Jackie L. Johnson recuses herself from the case, citing a conflict of interest because one of the defendants, Greg McMichael, is a former investigator for her office.

Early April: Waycross District Attorney George Barnhill takes over the case and finds there is insufficient evidence to charge anyone for killing Arbery.

After pressure from Arbery’s family, Barnhill recuses himself citing a conflict of interest because his son is an attorney in the Brunswick DA’s office.

April 1, 2020: The Brunswick News receives a copy of the police reports from the Glynn County Police Department.

April 13, 2020: A third prosecutor, District Attorney Tom Durden of the Atlantic Judicial Circuit, becomes head of the investigation.

April 29, 2020: Action News Jax obtains 911 calls from the day of the shooting.

April 30, 2020: The City of Brunswick releases a statement saying it is aware of the events which resulted in the shooting death of Arbery.

May 5, 2020: District Attorney Durden recommends the case be sent to a grand jury to decide if any charges should be filed.

Hours later, video of Arbery being shot lands on social media, sparking outrage and calls for Greg and Travis McMichael to be arrested. [Full video can be watched here. WARNING: Video is graphic]

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is asked to take over the investigation.

May 7, 2020: Within hours of GBI taking over the case, Greg and Travis McMichael are arrested and charged with aggravated assault and murder in the death of Arbery.

The McMichaels are booked into the Glynn County jail.

May 8, 2020: The Georgia Bureau of Investigation held a news conference to go over its timeline of how they took over the case and made the arrests.

A massive rally is held outside the courthouse in Brunswick to honor what would have been Arbery’s 26th birthday. Supporters across the country also ran or walked 2.23 miles in his memory.

Greg and Travis McMichael appeared in court where a judge denied bond for both men.

May 9: GBI says it has reviewed additional video footage in the Arbery case. One video appears to be from a surveillance camera at a Brunswick home near where Arbery was shot. A family lawyer said the video does appear to show Arbery, but that he was doing nothing wrong.

May 10, 2020: Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr requests the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the case.

May 11, 2020: Carr appoints Cobb District Attorney Joyette Holmes to take over the case from special prosecutor Thomas Durden. Durden has recused himself from the case.

The Justice Department said federal prosecutors are considering hate crime charges against the McMichaels.

The GBI releases an autopsy report dated from April 1 that showed Arbery was shot three times.

May 12, 2020: The GBI launches a new investigation into the Arbery case looking into how it was handled by the offices of the District Attorneys of the Brunswick and Waycross Judicial Circuits.

May 13, 2020: William “Roddie” Bryan, the man who recorded video of the shooting of Arbery, speaks only with Action News Jax.

Bryan denies being part of the confrontation that led to Arbery’s death.

“I had nothing to do with it. I’m trying to get my life back to normal, and it’s been smeared for the last week,” Bryan said at the time. “I was told I was a witness and I’m not sure what I am, other than receiving a bunch of threats.”

May 18, 2020: During a late-night news conference, Bryan’s attorney pleaded with the attorneys for the victim’s family to pull back on the threats because his client was getting death threats and feared for his safety.

May 19, 2020: The GBI returns to the Satilla Shores neighborhood after securing search warrants and agents go through the homes of Gregory and Travis McMichael, as well as vehicles that belong to the men.

May 20, 2020: Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson took to the radio to say she did everything right by recusing herself from the Ahmaud Arbery murder case as criminal, state and federal investigations put more attention on her office and the politics surrounding the investigation.

May 21, 2020: The GBI announces a third arrest in the Arbery case. William “Roddie” Bryan, who recorded the video of Arbery being shot, was charged with felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.

May 26, 2020: The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia announce they are looking into possible federal hate crime charges in the Arbery Case.

June 4, 2020: During the preliminary hearing, a GBI investigator said one of the suspects, Travis McMichael, used the N-word while standing over Arbery’s body.

June 24, 2020: A grand jury indicted the McMichaels and Bryan on nine charges including malice murder. The Cobb County District Attorney’s Office said the indictment Wednesday formally charges all three men with malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.

July 17, 2020: The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has opened an unrelated sex crime case against one of the defendants. The GBI said that the investigation is based on allegations made against Bryan.

Oct. 6, 2020: Prosecutors say they want to show racist social media posts they believe came from the defendants to present to the jury. In motions, prosecutors ask to use Facebook posts, videos and text messages from the three defendants.

Nov. 4, 2020: Voters in Glynn County voted out District Attorney Jackie Johnson, who originally headed up the Ahmaud Arbery investigation. Special prosecutor Cobb DA Joyette Holmes also lost in the election. The new Cobb DA Flynn Broady said he will continue the office’s work on the Arbery case.

Nov. 13, 2020: A judge denies a bond request for Greg and Travis McMichael. Lawyers for the father and son argued they should be out of jail, making the case that the McMichaels were good people and were not a flight risk. Prosecutors argued that they are racists and pose a threat and that Greg McMichael was abusing his position as a former law enforcement officer.

Dec. 8, 2020: Judge Timothy Walmsley released the six-page denial ruling for the first time since verbally denying bond, explaining why he thinks the defendants are not good candidates for bond.

Dec. 15, 2020: Newly-released body camera videos show when officers first arrived on the scene on Feb. 23. WSB-TV’s Tony Thomas asked for all of the video entered in evidence. It is the best look so far at the scene where Arbery was killed and how quickly the suspects realized there was video of the incident.

Feb. 16, 2021: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announces legislation to overhaul the Citizen’s Arrest Bill. Kemp says part of the reason for this proposed change is because of what happened to Arbery.

He said he hoped to close what he calls dangerous loopholes that could be used to justify future acts of vigilantism.

Lawyers for suspects Travis and Gregory McMichael claim they were attempting a citizen’s arrest of someone they thought was committing a crime.

Ahmaud’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones said she’s overwhelmed knowing something is being done to protect Georgians.

March 31, 2021: Georgia lawmakers gave final passage to a bill to repeal the state’s citizen’s arrest law, acting little more than a year after the fatal shooting of Arbery.

The state House voted 169-0 to approve Senate changes to House Bill 479, sending it to Gov. Brian Kemp for his expected signature. The legislation was one of the top legislative priorities this session in the aftermath of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.

“I look forward to signing it into law as we continue to send a clear message that the Peach State will not tolerate sinister acts of vigilantism in our communities,” the Republican governor said in a statement.

April 28, 2021: The McMichaels and Bryan are charged with federal hate crime and attempted kidnapping charges, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Sept. 2, 2021: Former Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson is indicted in relation to the investigation of the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, the Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced.

Oct. 13, 2021: Court officials preparing for the trial of three men charged with chasing and killing Ahmaud Arbery mail jury duty notices to 1,000 people.

Oct. 18, 2021: Jury selection officially begins in the murder trial for Greg and Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan.

Nov. 3, 2021: After nearly three weeks of jury selection for the murder trial of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, the 12 seated jurors have been selected. The final selection includes 11 white people and 1 Black person.

Nov. 5, 2021: Opening statements begin in the trial against the McMichaels and Bryan.

Nov. 11, 2021: Defense attorney Kevin Gough, who is representing defendant William “Roddie” Bryan, suggested the Arbery family should not be able to have any more Black pastors coming in and supporting them, even though he admitted he didn’t realize the Rev. Al Sharpton joined the family until court ended Wednesday night.

Nov. 18, 2021: In response to Kevin Gough’s remarks about Black pastors, hundreds of Black pastors gather at Glynn County Courthouse in support of Ahmaud Arbery’s family.

Nov. 24, 2021: A jury finds Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael and William ‘Roddie’ Bryan guilty of murder in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.

Dec. 20, 2021: For the federal hate crimes trial for the McMichaels and Bryan, the jury selection pool is widened to 43 Georgia counties.

Jan. 7, 2022: The three men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery are sentenced to life in prison. The sentences for Travis McMichael, who shot Arbery; and his father, Gregory McMichael, do not carry the possibility of parole. William “Roddie” Bryan was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Jan. 30, 2022: Father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael reach a plea deal for federal hate crime charges stemming from the 2020 murder. Wanda Cooper Jones, Arbery’s mother, said she had been “completely betrayed.”

Feb. 1, 2022: A federal judge rejects the plea deals for Travis and Gregory McMichael in the pre-trial for their federal hate crime case.

Feb. 4, 2022: Gregory and Travis McMichael withdraw their guilty pleas to federal hate crime charges after the judge denied the plea agreement for the two of them. They will stand trial with their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan.

Feb. 7, 2022: The federal hate crimes trial begins for Ahmaud Arbery’s convicted killers.

Feb. 14, 2022: The Department of Justice and the defense team give opening statements in hate crimes trial for Ahmaud Arbery’s killing.

Feb. 22, 2022: The three men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery are found guilty of federal hate crimes and violating Arbery’s civil rights.

March 11, 2022: Travis McMichael and his father, Gregory McMichael, appeal their federal hate crime convictions.

April 19, 2022: The white men convicted of hate crimes for chasing and killing Ahmaud Arbery as he ran in their Georgia neighborhood have been scheduled for sentencing this summer in federal court.

Aug. 8, 2022: The McMichaels and Bryan are sentenced on federal hate crime charges. Travis McMichael was sentenced to serve a life sentence plus 10 years. Greg McMichael was sentenced to life in prison plus seven years. Bryan was sentenced to 447 months in prison, with 27 months of time served for a total of 420 more months, or 35 years, behind bars.

Information from the New York Times was used in this article.

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