BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia judge will continue hearing legal motions Thursday in the murder case of three men facing a fall trial in the slaying of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was chased and shot after being spotted running in the defendants’ neighborhood.
Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley planned to revisit defense attorneys’ push for permission to show the trial jury evidence involving Arbery’s mental health. They argue that mental illness could have played a role in the Feb. 23, 2020, slaying. Prosecutors are objecting, saying it’s a ploy by defense lawyers to make a case that Arbery’s death was his own fault.
During the pretrial hearing’s first day Wednesday, the judge opted against hearing testimony regarding Arbery’s mental health. He said he wanted to weigh the issue before allowing the slain man’s private medical information to be discussed in open court.
Travis McMichael and his father, Greg McMichael, armed themselves and pursued the 25-year-old man in a pickup truck as he ran past their home just outside the port city of Brunswick, about 70 miles (112 kilometers) south of Savannah.
A neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, joined the chase and took cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery three times at close range with a shotgun.
The three men, all of whom are white, are charged with malice murder and other counts. The judge has scheduled jury selection in their trial to begin Oct. 18.
The case sparked a national outcry during a year of protests over killings of unarmed Black people. The Justice Department on April 28 added hate crime charges against the McMichaels and Bryan, who all pleaded not guilty to the federal counts before a U.S. magistrate judge Tuesday.