Greg and Travis McMichael denied bond in Ahmaud Arbery case

In this image made from video, Travis McMichael, left, and Greg McMichael listen to a preliminary hearing via a court video feed, Thursday, June 4, 2020, while inside the in the Glynn County jail, in Brunswick, Ga. The two men who are charged with murder in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery as well as William "Roddie" Bryan, was also arrested and charged with felony murder and illegally using a vehicle to try to confine and detain Arbery. (Glynn County Jail via AP, Pool)
In this image made from video, Travis McMichael, left, and Greg McMichael listen to a preliminary hearing via a court video feed, Thursday, June 4, 2020, while inside the in the Glynn County jail, in Brunswick, Ga. The two men who are charged with murder in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery as well as William "Roddie" Bryan, was also arrested and charged with felony murder and illegally using a vehicle to try to confine and detain Arbery. (Glynn County Jail via AP, Pool)

Father and son to remain jailed awaiting trial following coastal Georgia shooting death

In the end, Judge Timothy Walmsley’s decision to deny bond to the father and son charged in the February shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery hinged on a piece of evidence already viewed by millions.

Two days of testimony from friends and family attesting to the character of Greg and Travis McMichael couldn’t compete with their actions in the cellphone video, played by the state Friday morning, depicting the final moments of Arbery’s life.

Walmsley said the footage shows the McMichaels pose a threat to the community. They had no way of knowing if Arbery was responsible for the burglaries they was suspected him of, the judge concluded.

EXPLORE: AJC coverage of the Ahmaud Arbery shooting

“And that somehow resulted in individuals thinking it was appropriate to block that individual’s path of travel, shoulder a firearm in order to get him to stop,” Walmsley said. “There is a significant danger to all of those actions. Individuals who do that need to be aware of the fact they can end up exactly where (the McMichaels) are now.”

The McMichaels told police they were convinced Arbery had burglarized a nearby house under construction.

They, along with neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, chased Arbery in their pickup trucks after Greg McMichael observed Arbery “hauling ass” on foot, as he told investigators. Prosecutors say Arbery was just out jogging the day of the fatal February encounter and stole nothing.

He was shot three times by Travis McMichael as his father, Greg McMichael, also armed, provided cover. Bryan, charged with murder as well, was denied bond in July. He filmed the video referenced by the judge on his cellphone.

As it played in court, shrieks of sorrow could be heard from Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones.

“Ahmaud was confused,” she said. “Ahmaud had no idea he was under attack.”

Cooper-Jones said she was relieved bond was denied.

“Today was a good day," she said.

Attorney Franklin Hogue, who with his wife, attorney Laura Hogue, represents Greg McMichael, told the judge he plans to submit a certificate of immediate review with the state Supreme Court. Walmsley would have to grant permission for the appeal to go forward.

“This case, despite all that we’ve heard, is about whether Greg McMichael on Feb. 23 was authorized to protect his neighborhood from crime the way that he did,” Laura Hogue said.

On day one of the hearing, Bob Rubin, co-counsel for Travis McMichael, said the defense will show Arbery was in Satilla Shores, the neighborhood where the shooting took place, “for nefarious purposes.”

“(Travis McMichael) never posed a danger before or after Feb. 23 and I’d submit he didn’t pose a danger Feb. 23,” Rubin said. “The danger came from Mr. Arbery.”

Lead prosecutor Jesse Evans said the McMichaels were the primary aggressors.

“They had an intention to track Ahmaud Arbery,” he said. “They used their pickup truck as a weapon.”

Since the shooting, Evans said, the McMichaels “have been actively trying to obstruct justice."

Police body cam footage from the scene showed Greg McMichael telling officers he had previously worked in law enforcement. His was a former Glynn County police officer and chief investigator in the Brunswick district attorney’s office.

Walmsley said the evidence shows Greg McMichael “was going to place the law in his own hands, that he felt he had the ability to influence an ongoing investigation."

“I think the facts are still developing on this but possibly one of the reasons why this case took so long to get to where it is right now,” the judge said.

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