‘Breakdown’ Ep.6: The McMichaels plead for bond

Wanda Cooper-Jones, mother of Ahmaud Arbery, sits for a portrait in Augusta's Pendleton King Park. The sixth episode of the eighth season of "Breakdown" follows the bond hearings for Travis and Greg McMichael, which included a powerful victim impact statement from Cooper-Jones. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Caption
Wanda Cooper-Jones, mother of Ahmaud Arbery, sits for a portrait in Augusta's Pendleton King Park. The sixth episode of the eighth season of "Breakdown" follows the bond hearings for Travis and Greg McMichael, which included a powerful victim impact statement from Cooper-Jones. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Six months after their arrests in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, father and son argue for bail in contentious hearings

Since their May 7 arrest, Travis and Greg McMichael have been held in custody at the Glynn County jail. Six months later, they finally got their chance to argue for bail and be released pending trial for the alleged murder of Ahmaud Arbery.

The sixth episode of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Breakdown podcast covers two days of contentious hearings pitting the McMichaels' lawyers against the state. Presiding was Judge Timothy Walmsley who said his job was to make sure he kept a level head and that everyone else did the same.

Travis McMichael, 34, and his father Greg McMichael, 64, are charged with malice murder and other offenses for the Feb. 23 fatal shooting. Arbery, 25, was chased down and cornered as he ran through the Satilla Shores neighborhood near Brunswick. He was killed by three shotgun blasts fired by Travis McMichael.

Also charged is William “Roddie” Bryan, who lived in the neighborhood, joined in the chase and took a video of the shooting with his cellphone. Bryan, 50, was denied bond by Walmsley in July.

As expected, race became an issue during the McMichaels' bond hearing, as defense attorneys continued to push back against allegations that the McMichaels, who are white, chased down Arbery because he was a Black man.

ExploreComplete coverage of the Ahmaud Arbery case

“The state’s declaration is this is about racism, racism - racist whites running after and murdering an innocent Black jogger,” Jason Sheffield, one of Travis McMichael’s lawyers, told Walmsley. “So that is what we believe the state is going to be presenting to the court. … We would ask the court not to allow the state to present that.”

But Walmsley would allow into evidence racially insensitive posts the McMichaels made on social media and racist texts sent from cellphones. The judge also acknowledged “there’s going to be a bunch of artillery being thrown back and forth on some very touchy subjects.”

ExploreListen to previous seasons of the AJC's 'Breakdown' podcast

Allowed to give a victim impact statement, Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, made an emotional plea to Walmsley to keep the McMichaels locked up. During the course of the GBI’s secondary investigation, she said, the agency found what they believed to be one of Arbery’s bone fragments near where the spot he was killed.

“These men are proud of what they’ve done,” she said of the McMichaels. “And they want to go home because in their selfish minds they think that they’re the good guys. And I and my family are left literally to pick up the pieces.”