Men accused in coastal Georgia shooting hire attorneys

Men accused in coastal Georgia shooting hire attorneys

Men accused in coastal Georgia shooting hire attorneys

DECATUR, Ga. — Attorneys for two white men accused of pursuing and killing a black man in Georgia said Thursday their clients have been vilified and cautioned against a rush to judgment in a case that has drawn national attention.

Gregory and Travis McMichael, a father and son, are charged with aggravated assault and felony murder in the Feb. 23 death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. The case stirred outrage after a video of Arbery’s final moments surfaced online last week. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was called in to take over the seemingly stalled investigation and the McMichaels were arrested less than 48 hours later.

The attorneys for 34-year-old Travis McMichael — Bob Rubin and Jason Sheffield — said at a news conference Thursday afternoon that while the shooting itself was captured on video, much remains unknown about events leading up to the killing. Sheffield called Arbery’s death “a tragedy.”

“Right now we are starting at the end,” Sheffield said outside their metro Atlanta law office. “We know the ending. What we don’t know is the beginning.”

Rubin added: “We implore all of you … don’t rush to judgment.”

Rubin and Sheffield didn’t respond when asked who was paying them.

Defence attorneys for both McMichaels said they plan to ask a judge to set bond so they can be released from jail pending trial. Sheffield said he expects that hearings will be held virtually because of concerns about the coronavirus.

Laura and Frank Hogue, a husband and wife criminal defence team based in Macon, said they have been hired to represent 64-year-old Gregory McMichael.

“So often the public accepts a narrative driven by an incomplete set of facts, one that vilifies a good person, based on a rush to judgment, which has happened in this case,” Laura Hogue said in a statement Thursday.

“We agree with the attorneys for Travis McMichael that the justice system affords all citizens the presumption of innocence and that there shouldn’t be a rush to judgment or stereotyping,” attorneys for Arbery’s parents said in an emailed statement. “We only wish that their client, Travis McMichael, had provided that same presumption of innocence to Ahmaud Arbery before chasing and killing him.”

Less than two weeks before Arbery was shot, Travis McMichael sounded on edge the night of Feb. 11 when he called 911 to report a possible trespasser inside a house under construction in his subdivision.

“We’ve had a string of burglaries,” Travis McMichael says on the 911 recording. “I was leaving the neighbourhood and I just caught a guy running into a house being built two houses down from me.”

Asked for a description, he says: “It’s a black male, red shirt and white shorts.” Calling from inside his truck, he sounds out of breath. The 911 operator asks: “Are you OK?”

“Yeah, it just startled me,” Travis McMichael replied. “When I turned around and saw him and backed up, he reached into his pocket and ran into the house. So I don’t know if he’s armed or not. But he looked like, he was acting like he was. So be mindful of that.”

He said he had never seen the person in the neighbourhood before.

“But we’ve been having a lot of burglaries and break-ins around here,” Travis McMichael added. “I had a pistol stolen Jan. 1, actually.”

An attorney for the homeowner, Larry English, released security camera video showing a man walking briefly through the open-framed structure. It’s unknown if that man is Arbery.

Attorneys for Arbery’s family have said a man shown on security video inside the house-in-progress Feb. 23 was Arbery — and that the footage shows him committing no crimes. Arbery was killed a short time later.

That more than two months passed before the McMichaels were arrested, shortly after video of the shooting became public, caused many to draw parallels to other shootings of black men by white men in recent years.

“While the death of Ahmaud Arbery is a tragedy, causing deep grief to his family — a tragedy that at first appears to many to fit into a terrible pattern in American life — this case does not fit that pattern,” Gregory McMichael’s defence attorney Frank Hogue said in a statement.

According to an incident report by Glynn County police, Gregory McMichael, said he and his son armed themselves and chased Arbery in a pickup truck after seeing him run down their street. Gregory McMichael told police he suspected Arbery was a burglar, and said he attacked Travis McMichael before he was shot in a struggle over the gun.

Arbery’s mother told The Associated Press on Wednesday that she has confidence in the investigation now that the GBI has taken it over and a new independent prosecutor has been appointed. She said she would like prosecutors to seek the death penalty.

___

Associated Press writer Russ Bynum in Savannah, Georgia, contributed reporting.

Kate Brumback, The Associated Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed eight additional virus-deaths Monday afternoon including one in central zone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
New record: Red Deer at 236 active COVID cases

One more death in central zone reported

Sylvan Lake RCMP Detachment. Photo Courtesy of Google Maps
Sylvan Lake RCMP address three key areas of resident concern

RCMP were notified of these main areas of concern through an online Town Hall

Alberta had 1,571 active COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta’s central zone now has 1,101 active COVID-19 cases

Provincial death toll has risen by nine

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 1,731 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday

The province’s central zone has 992 active cases

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

(Black Press File Photo)
Rimbey woman gathering Christmas gifts for seniors at Valleyview Manor

Margaret Tanasiuk says she doesn’t want anyone to feel forgotten on Christmas morning

Paramedics register patients at a drive through, pop-up COVID-19 test centre outside the Canadian Tire Centre, home of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, in Ottawa, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians aren’t currently worried that people in other countries might get a COVID-19 vaccine first. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Canadians not worried other countries will get COVID-19 vaccine first: poll

Forty-one per cent of respondents say they want the vaccine to be mandatory for all Canadians

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Executive Director and Co-Founder of Rock Soup Craig Haavalsen is sleeping in a tent outside Rock Soup’s location until the Go Fund Me for Rock Soup raises $10,000. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Putting normalcy into asking for help: New non-profit sets up in Wetaskiwin

Rock Soup non-profit is a new secular Food Bank putting down roots in Wetaskiwin.

Wetaskiwin Composite High School. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools prepare for transition back to online learning

Grades 7-12 will are mandated to transfer to online learning starting Nov. 30, 2020.

Lawyer Devon Page, Ecojustice Canada’s executive director, pauses during a news conference in Vancouver on Wed., Sept. 26, 2012. The environmental law group has lost its bid to pause Alberta’s inquiry into where critics of its oil and gas industry get their funding. Ecojustice sought an injunction this summer to suspend the inquiry, headed by forensic accountant Steve Allan, until there is a decision on whether it’s legal. nbsp;THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Judge tosses application to pause Alberta inquiry into funding of oil and gas foes

Ecojustice sought an injunction in the summer to suspend the inquiry

Janelle Robinson owns and operates Spirit’s Respite Ranch near Stettler. The Ranch, just north of Stettler, is an animal therapy ranch that helps those with special needs and conditions ranging from PTSD to anxiety. Mark Weber/Stettler Independent
Spirit’s Respite Ranch near Stettler provides support through animal interaction

‘I also come from a family of doers - if something that is needed isn’t there, you just figure it out’

Most Read