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No more video? Ahmaud Arbery murder suspects want to be in court physically, not virtually

New court filing says Greg and Travis McMichael deserve to be in the courtroom instead of appearing by remote video.
Credit: Glynn Co. Police
Gregory McMichael, 64

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The father and son charged with murder in the February 2020 killing of Ahmaud Arbery want to be allowed into the courtroom.

In a new court filing, attorneys for Greg and Travis McMichael asked the judge to allow the pair to "be present in the courtroom at each and every further stage of the proceeding."

The murder case coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, and Glynn County courts -- like most courts in the region -- have been conducting many procedures virtually. The McMichaels, along with their co-defendant Roddie Bryan, have appeared at their hearings via webcam. 

Arbery, who was 25 at the time, was shot and killed on Feb. 23, 2020. Cellphone video of the shooting emerged more than two months later, which led to the arrest and charges of the suspects in the case.

Defendants told police they thought Arbery was the person responsible for a series of home burglaries in the Satilla Shores neighborhood. His family says he was jogging.

The motion filed last week cites constitutional and case law that a defendant "is entitle[d] ... to be present at all stages of the proceedings."

"The defendants’ right to assistance of counsel cannot be fully effectuated unless the defendant is present at the proceedings, alongside his attorneys," the motion says. "The right to consult and work with the attorney finds its roots in the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. However, the right to be present also derives from the explicit constitutional right to personally confront witnesses. ... Therefore, Travis and Gregory McMichael hereby advise the Court of their intent and desire to be present in the courtroom with their attorneys at any future court proceedings and respectfully move this Court to enter an Order requiring that all necessary arrangements are made to assure their presence in the courtroom."

The judge has not yet ruled on the motion.