Federal Prosecutor: Ahmaud Arbery's Killers Known To Use Racist Slurs

The three killers of Ahmaud Arbery.
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BRUNSWICK, Ga. -- The three white men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery had histories of making racist comments or using slurs in text messages that stunned their friends and colleagues, a federal prosecutor told jurors Monday as the trio stood trial on hate crime charges in the 25-year-old Black man's death.

During opening statements in the case, defense attorneys admitted their clients had each expressed offensive and indefensible opinions about Black people. But they insisted the trio's pursuit of Arbery as he ran in their neighborhood was prompted by honest, though erroneous, suspicion that he had committed crimes — not by his race.

“I'm not going to ask you to like Travis McMichael,” Amy Lee Copeland, the defense attorney for the man who fatally shot Arbery, told the jury. “I'm not going to ask you to decide that he had done nothing wrong. But I'm going to ask you to return a verdict of not guilty to this indictment."

McMichael and his father, Greg McMichael, armed themselves and chased Arbery in a pickup truck after he ran past their coastal Georgia home on Feb. 23, 2020. A neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, joined the pursuit in his own truck and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael blasting Arbery with a shotgun. Arrests came only after the video leaked online two months later.

All three were convicted of murder and a judge sentenced them to life in prison last month.

Now the McMichaels and Bryan are on trial again, this time in U.S. District Court, where federal prosecutors have charged them with hate crimes that allege they violated Arbery’s civil rights and targeted him because he was Black. Read more.

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