Judge: Ahmaud Arbery’s past troubles irrelevant to trial

Sep 1, 2021, 6:56 AM | Updated: 9:37 am

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Defense attorneys for the men charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery won’t be allowed to present evidence of the slain Black man’s past legal problems when their clients stand trial for murder, a Georgia judge ruled.

Gregory and Travis McMichael, a father and son, and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. are awaiting trial this fall for chasing and killing 25-year-old Arbery last year as he ran in their neighborhood outside coastal Brunswick. Jury selection is scheduled to start Oct. 18.

Attorneys for the McMichaels wanted the jury to hear about Arbery’s past run-ins with law enforcement, including two arrests, to cast doubt on prosecutors’ contention that he was merely an innocent jogger. Defense attorneys say the white men reasonably suspected Arbery had committed a crime when they began the pursuit that ended in his death.

Prosecutors argued that defense lawyers were seeking to put Arbery on trial by making his criminal record and other prior problems part of the case. None of the three defendants knew Arbery, or anything about his past, prior to the shooting. Prosecutors said his past was irrelevant to their decision to arm themselves and ultimately shoot a man who was trying to run away.

In a written order, Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley ruled evidence of Arbery’s past run-ins with the law could unfairly “lead the jury to believe that although Arbery did not apparently commit any felony that day, he may pose future dangerousness in that he would eventually commit more alleged crimes, and therefore, the Defendants’ actions were somehow justified.”

“The character of victim is neither relevant nor admissible in murder trial,” the judge wrote in his ruling Monday.

The McMichaels pursued Arbery in a pickup truck after they spotted him running in their neighborhood Feb. 23, 2020. Bryan joined the chase and took cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery three times at close range with a shotgun.

Defense attorneys argue the three men committed no crimes. They say the McMichaels suspected Arbery was a burglar after he was recorded by video cameras inside a home under construction. Travis McMichael’s lawyers say he shot Arbery in self-defense.

Arbery was unarmed when he was killed. Prosecutors have said nothing was stolen from the construction site and Arbery was merely jogging.

Defense attorneys have also asked the judge to let them introduce evidence Arbery suffered from a mental illness. Walmsley has not ruled on that request.

Arbery pleaded guilty to charges he carried a gun onto a high school campus in 2013, a year after he graduated. Rodney Ellis, police chief for the Glynn County school system, testified at Wednesday’s hearing that Arbery tried to evade officers on foot and stopped only when two of them pointed guns at him.

He was also arrested in 2017 on charges that he tried to steal a TV from a Walmart store. Court records show he pleaded guilty to shoplifting. Arbery was on probation at the time of his death.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Chinese envoy expresses concern over US tariffs with Yellen

BEIJING (AP) — China’s envoy to trade war talks with Washington expressed concern about U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports during a phone call Tuesday with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the Ministry of Commerce announced, but it gave no indication of progress toward resolving an array of conflicts. Vice Premier Liu He and Yellen also discussed […]
1 day ago
A woman wearing a face mask walks past a bank's electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index ...
Associated Press

Asia shares rise on optimism about easing COVID restrictions

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares advanced Monday across the board as buying set in after the lull of a U.S. national holiday. Analysts said the optimism may be driven by expectations the U.S. may decide to cut Chinese tariffs, a welcome move that would also help tame inflation. China’s Commerce Ministry said Tuesday that Vice […]
1 day ago
A man paddles on a stand-up paddle board through a flooded street at Windsor on the outskirts of Sy...
Associated Press

Australian central bank boosts rate for 3rd month in a row

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s central bank on Tuesday lifted its benchmark interest rate for a third time in three straight months, changing the cash rate to 1.35% from 0.85%. The Reserve Bank of Australia’s half a percentage point rise was the same size as its June increase. When the bank lifted the rate by […]
1 day ago
A woman wearing a face mask walks past a bank's electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index ...
Associated Press

Asia shares rise on optimism about easing COVID restrictions

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares advanced Monday across the board as buying set in after the lull of a U.S. national holiday. Analysts said the optimism may be driven by expectations the U.S. may decide to cut Chinese tariffs, a welcome move that would also help tame inflation. China’s Commerce Ministry said Tuesday that Vice […]
1 day ago
FILE - Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach speaks in Leavenworth, Kan., on July 8, 2019. K...
Associated Press

Kobach looks for comeback in Kansas after losing 2 big races

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas voters have said no to him twice over the past four years. But Kris Kobach is nonetheless betting that this can be the year he makes a political comeback. His losses, including a 2018 defeat that handed the governor’s office in this Republican-leaning state to a Democrat, might end other […]
1 day ago
Republican gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Brian Dahle, left, talks with fellow GOP state Sen. A...
Associated Press

Newsom’s opponent: I’m reasonable, not a ‘crazy Republican’

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Brian Dahle, the Republican Party’s longshot hope to unseat Gov. Gavin Newsom in California, knows that to win in his progressive home state he can’t allow Democrats to label him as an election denying, abortion-hating, gun-loving, bombastic right-winger. It’s why Dahle, an affable farmer and state senator from the sparsely populated […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
...
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
Judge: Ahmaud Arbery’s past troubles irrelevant to trial