BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The federal hate crimes trial of three men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery continues Thursday in Glynn County.
Right away, a Glynn County Police officer was called as a witness. The officer regularly patrolled the area that includes Satilla Shores.
Specifically, the officer patrolled the vacant house that’s under construction. This is the same home that Arbery was seen in.
The GCPD officer mentioned Arbery wasn’t the only one wandering around the house. In fact, a white couple was seen walking around too. Travis McMichael once called the police on Arbery, on February 11. In the 911 call, McMichael said Arbery was acting like he had a weapon on him and ran into the house that's under construction. It should be known Arbery was not identified as one of the trespassers yet.
Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was running through the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick when Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan, who are all white, chased Arbery in their trucks before Travis McMichael fired the deadly shots that killed Arbery.
Arbery's father, Marcus Arbery Sr. left the courtroom before the medical examiner showcased photos of Abery's body. The examiner said Arbery's wounds were so severe, it would not have been possible to save him. The doctor believed he suffered "three medically significant wounds." That includes a grazed shotgun wound to the wrist and the center of his chest. The doctor said those two areas were hit at the same time.
All three were convicted of murder, with a mandatory life sentence. Now, prosecutors are arguing the case that the murder was racially motivated.
On Wednesday, the state's witnesses gave disturbing testimony detailing a long history of racist text messages and social media posts by all three defendants, dating back several years.
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Defense attorneys said earlier this week that the words are inexcusable, but insisted the men chased Arbery because they suspected he was trespassing, not because he was Black.
"During the state trial, I said Ahmaud actually - he escaped the first murder date of February 11," Wanda Cooper-Jones said, Arbery's mother. She talked to the media after showing up to court. "That was the date they actually planned to kill Ahmaud."
While the prosecutors were reviewing body cam video from a Georgia Bureau Investigations agent, Cooper-Jones reacted to William ''Roddie" Bryant chuckling after telling a Gylnn County Police Officer "Should we have been chasing him? I don't know."
"I know you guys get tired of me saying 'Ahmaud hadn't done anything wrong on that day' but still they chose to chase him," Cooper-Jones said.
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As this second trial of three defendants already convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery gets underway, there are many questions swirling about the reasons for the seemingly repetitious proceeding.
- What’s the difference?
Unlike their murder trial in state court, the new trial is a federal hate crimes case. Georgia did not have a hate crimes statute when Ahmaud Arbery was killed – it was just one of four states without one.
The state subsequently adopted a hate crime law, but the men could not be prosecuted retroactively under that law in state court.
- What’s a hate crime?
Despite the name, it is not necessary for prosecutors to prove the three men actually “hated” Ahmaud Arbery; only that they committed the alleged crimes because of his race.