Travis McMichael, 35, his father, Gregory McMichael, 65, and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, are hoping their attorney will have success using a Civil War-era citizen’s arrest statute as their defense in court.
Despite the state recently repealing the law last year, Reuters reports that the law allowed untrained civilians to make an arrest upon reasonable suspicion of a felony offense.
Gov. Brian Kemp signed a repeal after Ahmaud Arbery’s killing and the public outrage over his death.
Arbery, who was an avid jogger in his community, was shot and killed on Feb. 23, 2020, while the law was still in effect. Legal observers say prosecutors will attempt to convince the jury that the three accused assailants didn’t have “reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion” when they charged Arbery during his run, Reuters reports.
“Citizen’s arrest is a big part of our case, a big part,” Kevin Gough, Roddie Bryan’s lawyer, said. “They changed the law, but changing the law doesn’t affect us. It doesn’t change what was the law of the land at the time.” According to their statements, the three chased Arbery in two pickup trucks through Satilla Shores before fatally shooting him because they suspected him to be a burglar.
The trial, which is currently in its second week of jury selection, follows a host of race-related assaults by white people upon Black American citizens. From Kyle Rittenhouse to Dylann Roof, it appears that this will follow in lockstep with being a difficult process.
According to CNN, of the 60 people that have been questioned, many have formed strong opinions about the case or have seen some form of propaganda online from both sides of the story.
The McMichaels and William Bryan are charged with malice, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.