BRANSWIK, GA (AP) – Federal trial for hate crimes against three men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arberi begins on Thursday, and jurors return to court after hearing testimony that two of them often used racial insults.
On Thursday, in the U.S. District Court in the port city of Brunswick, prosecutors were to continue to call witnesses. The 25-year-old Arbury was fatally shot near the city nearly two years ago. The white people who persecuted him are accused of violating his civil rights and attacking him because he was black. All of them did not admit their guilt.
FBI analyst Amy Vaughn testified on Wednesday that Travis McMichael, the man who shot Arbury, repeatedly used the word N and other racist insults in text messages and social media in the months and years before the murder. These included posts describing violence against black people.
His father, Greg McMichael, posted on Facebook a meme alleging that “Irish slaves” were American-treated more than any other group in the country’s history, but investigators were unable to download evidence from his encrypted cell phone. Second defendant William “Roddy” Brian also used insults in a number of emails, including several sent on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, mocking the celebration of the Civil Rights Leader.
The McMichals armed themselves and chased Arbury in a pickup truck after they noticed on February 23, 2020, that he was running past their home. Brian, a neighbor, joined the chase in his truck and recorded on his cell phone a video in which Travis McMichael blows up Arbury with a shotgun.
No arrests were made until two months later a video appeared on the Internet, and Arbery’s murder became part of a larger national debate over racial injustice.
Both McMichaels and Brian were found guilty of murder last fall in Georgia State Court, where they were sentenced to life in prison. The federal prosecutor’s office has charged them with hate crimes, so a second trial is needed.
Defenders condemned their clients’ racist reports as insulting and unfounded. But they also said the deadly pursuit of Arbury was motivated by a serious, albeit erroneous, suspicion that Arbury had committed crimes instead of his race.