Defense attorney in Ahmaud Arbery murder case says shooting was not 'just another act of violent racism'
MACON, Ga. - Attorneys for one of the two men charged in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery said Friday that national interest in the case has been fueled by an incomplete narrative, adding that they have gathered evidence that will tell a different story inside a courtroom.
The announcement from Gregory McMichael's attorneys comes more than a week after he and his son, Travis McMichael, were arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault in Arbery's killing - 74 days after Arbery was fatally shot in the coastal city of Brunswick. Arbery's family argues that the 25-year-old black man was simply out for a jog Feb. 23 when he was pursued by the McMichaels, who were armed. Gregory McMichael told police he and his son believed Arbery a was involved in nearby burglaries.
Frank and Laura Hogue, the attorneys representing the elder McMichael, declined to provide details about the additional evidence - including witnesses, documents and videos - that they have reviewed. But they said it will dispel comparisons between Arbery's killing and other instances of black men being gunned down by white men that many have attributed to racial bias in the United States.
"This case is not that story," said Frank Hogue, who repeatedly called Arbery's death a tragedy. "And when we bring it out in the proper venue - a court of law - at the proper time, the truth will reveal this is not just another act of violent racism."
The sentiments expressed Friday by Gregory McMichael's attorneys mirror statements from the attorneys representing Travis McMichael. On Wednesday, Robert Rubin and Jason Sheffield wrote that they had also uncovered evidence that would exonerate their client, who they say has been "vilified before his voice could even be heard."
"In a case such as this that is already highly publicized, it is imperative that no one rush to judgment, and to allow the legal process to run its course," Rubin wrote in a statement. Attorneys for Gregory McMichael say that while they are in contact with Rubin and Sheffield, the defense teams are working separately to defend their clients.
The statements from both McMichaels' attorneys come amid debate over what Arbery was doing in the moments before his death. While relatives say he was out jogging that day, prosecutors say he was in a building he was not authorized to be in, later identified as a home under construction. George Barnhill, one of two prosecutors who have recused themselves in the case, argued that the McMichaels were justified in their actions under Georgia's citizen's-arrest and self-defense laws because they thought Arbery was a burglary suspect.
In response to the comments from Travis McMichael's attorneys, lawyers who are representing Arbery's mother said it was actually the McMichaels who jumped to conclusions on Feb. 23.
"We agree with the attorneys for Travis McMichael that the justice system affords all citizens the presumption of innocence and that there shouldn't be a rush to judgment or stereotyping," wrote attorneys Lee Merritt, Benjamin Crump and Chris Stewart. "We only wish that their client, Travis McMichael, had provided that same presumption of innocence to Ahmaud Arbery before chasing and killing him."
The case has been heavily scrutinized as new developments have emerged in recent days. Larry English, the man who owns the home under construction, said he had installed motion-activated cameras to oversee the property. On Wednesday, his attorney released a statement indicating that the cameras had captured people inside the home on several occasions beginning in October, though she said nothing was ever stolen or damaged.