BRUNSWICK, Ga. — (Note: The video above is from a previous related report.)
A key witness in the case against three men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery will be deposed before the trial begins due to health issues.
According to a new order in the case, Satilla Shores homeowner Larry English will give a recorded deposition ahead of the Oct. 18 trial.
English owned the home under construction that Arbery is seen entering on surveillance video on Feb. 23, 2020, shortly before he was shot and killed by Travis McMichael. McMichael, his father Greg, and their neighbor William Roddy Bryan are all charged with first degree murder in the death of Arbery, who was 25.
According to the order, “the Court finds that the witness is material to the issues presented in the above captioned case and the witness’ health could reasonably prevent him from being available to testify in the trial of this matter in October 2021.”
The order is a response to a joint motion by prosecutors and defense attorneys filed last October which said "serious health issues ... put his ability to testify at trial at risk." According to a letter from his doctor, English suffers from cardiac sarcoidosis, diminished heart function and a depressed immune system, all of which put him at high risk if he contracts COVID-19.
In May 2020, English's attorney J. Elizabeth Graddy issued a statement citing his "serious medical condition, which has been aggravated by the stress of responding in the wake of the McMichaels' actions.”
The statement distanced English from the incident, noting he did not seek or sanction the defendants’ actions. According to video clips released by Graddy, Feb. 23 was just one of several occasions when people entered the construction site without permission.
English, who lived 90 miles away at the time, monitored the property via a motion-activated surveillance camera. Graddy said when earlier trespasses occurred, English contacted law enforcement twice -- once via a non-emergency number and once via 911 -- but not on Feb. 23.
"Nothing was ever stolen from the English property," the statement said. "Even if theft or damage had occurred, however, the Englishes would never have wanted a vigilante response. The Englishes did not know the McMichaels. The Englishes never enlisted the McMichaels to do what they did and do not want to be part of any effort to justify the McMichaels' actions."
Graddy said English told officials he didn’t think Arbery was doing anything wrong that day and may have come onto the property to get a drink of water.
English also offered his condolences to Arbery’s family.
"The homeowners were shocked and deeply saddened by these events, which they learned of after-the-fact. The homeowners are parents, and they are heartsick for Mr. Arbery's mother and father. Larry English and his family are praying for the Arberys."