Judge denies bond to one of three men charged in Arbery killing

From left, Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William Bryan have been charged with murder in the death of Ahmaud Arbery.

Credit: Glynn County Jail

Combined ShapeCaption
From left, Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William Bryan have been charged with murder in the death of Ahmaud Arbery.

Credit: Glynn County Jail

A judge on Friday denied bond to William “Roddie” Bryan, one of three men charged with murder in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in the Satilla Shores neighborhood near Brunswick.

At the close of a lengthy hearing, Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley rejected arguments from Bryan’s lawyer that he should be released on bond pending trial.

Earlier, both Travis and Greg McMichael waived arraignment Friday morning. Both entered not guilty pleas. The defendants and their attorneys appeared via computer for the hearing.

Travis McMichael, who fired the fatal shots; his father, Greg McMichael, once a local police officer; and Bryan, who recorded the video of the shooting on his cellphone, have all been charged with malice and felony murder. Lawyers for the three men have said their clients committed no crimes.

Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was unarmed, was killed Feb. 23. The McMichaels and Bryan are white.

Bryan also waived a formal reading of the charges and entered a not guilty plea.

Walmsley denied a motion, filed by Bryan’s attorney Kevin Gough, requesting Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes be removed from the case.

Shortly after noon, both of Arbery’s parents gave statements in court asking that bond be denied.

“He must remain in custody,” Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, said. “He’s dangerous and unapologetic.”

Preston Bryan, the defendant’s 26-year-old son, asked Walmsley to grant bond. He said that, since his arrest, his father has lost his job, his home and his car. But there are friends and relatives who will take care of him if he is released pending trial, Bryan said.

In arguing for bond, Gough contended “there is no case” against his client. It’s “utterly absurd” that Roddie Bryan was part of a “posse or a lynch mob” in the Satilla Shores neighborhood the day of Arbery’s killing, he said.

Gough also reminded Walmsley that jails and prisons across the nation are “riddled” with inmates who’ve tested positive for the coronavirus. “For some, that is a death sentence,” Gough said.

Jesse Evans, the lead prosecutor in the case, asked Walmsley to deny bond. He contended that Bryan struck Arbery with his truck when he tried to pin him down during the case. Evans noted there was both a dent and Arbery’s palm print on the side of Bryan’s truck.

The GBI has also opened “a parallel investigation into sex crimes” regarding an “unrelated offense,” Evans said. The prosecutor did not provide more details, but the GBI disclosed in a Tweet that the Camden County Sheriff’s Office asked the GBI to initiate a sex crimes investigation based on allegations made against Bryan.

“The investigation is active and ongoing,” the GBI said.

Evans also told Walmsley that the U.S. Justice Department has put the defendants on notice it is investigating them for a possible federal hate crime.

There is evidence to back that up, Evans said. He noted that texts taken from Bryan’s cellphone “are replete with racist remarks.”

“Repeatedly this defendant uses the n-word,” Evans said. “There’s a ton of filth in this defendant’s texts.”

In explaining his decision to deny bond, Walmsley said Bryan was a risk of flight because the charges against him are so serious. He also cited the two other investigations by the FBI and GBI.

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