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Judge to consider allowing evidence of Ahmaud Arbery’s mental health in October trial against men charged in his death

Family says Ahmaud Arbery’s mental health has nothing to do with three men chasing and killing him last year.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Day two of arguments about what evidence will be allowed at the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial. The key questions surrounding whether defense attorneys should be allowed to introduce evidence of Arbery’s prior brushes with the law, and to block evidence about their client’s jail phone calls.

There was a lot of back and forth about whether the psychological records can be used as evidence.

Judge Timothy Walmsley says he doesn’t want to make a mini-trial out of a murder victim’s mental health.

After an appearance in federal court on Monday on hate crime charges, this was the third straight day of court for Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan.

Attorneys for the McMichaels were asking the judge to strike an estimated 1,400 jail phone calls from trial, including one in which Greg McMichael referred to the shooting of Arbery as a good deed.

“That’s not what Mr. McMichael meant. He meant patrolling his neighborhood and trying to capture someone suspected of crimes in the neighborhood as the good deed and being punished for it was him being charged with murdering [Arbery],” Frank Hogue, defense attorney said.

Defense attorneys argue that phone calls between family members are private, but prosecutors disagree, saying some of the calls are incriminating and can be used at trial.

Hogue claims the prosecutors misinterpreted what McMichael said in the call.

The defense also brought in a Burke County sheriff’s deputy to continue its arguments that Arbery’s previous run-ins with law enforcement point to a pattern of criminal behavior.

Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother said it's difficult to hear witnesses peaking critically of her son.

“Regardless of what testimony was heard today, Ahmaud was our baby son, he wasn’t just a jogger. He was a brother, a son, a grandson, he was a person, Ahmaud went out for a run and he never returned home, Ahmaud was loved,” Cooper-Jones said.

The judge says he will evaluate the claims submitted by attorneys before making a decision, but said he does not want to make a “mini-trial” out of the issues at hand.

The judge said he will make those determinations before the jury selection in Arbery’s murder trial begins. The trial is something that family hopes will be quick.

“I just want this to be all over so Ahmaud can continue to rest in peace,” Cooper-Jones said.

Cobb County District Attorney Flynn Broady spoke for the first time to media after the hearing and the motions.

“I’m very confident in the team we’ve assembled to seek justice for the Ahmaud Arbery family…I’m very confident in their ability to bring justice in this case. We are looking forward to our trial date in October and making sure the nation heals at this time,” Broady said in a brief remark.

Jury selection in the case is scheduled for October 18, 2021.

    

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