Defense attorneys for Greg McMichael and Travis McMichael, the father and son charged in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, are asking prosecutors to stop calling the 25-year-old a “victim.”
According to court filings obtained by CNN, the attorneys filed motions last week to ensure that prosecutors do not use the term “at trial, during jury selection or in the presence of witnesses.” The unarmed Black jogger was gunned down almost a year ago in February, with similar attacks on unarmed Black people such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor following.
Greg McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, both charged with murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment, are proclaiming their innocence and plead not guilty to the charges. Meanwhile, their attorneys are doubling down on mitigating how Arbery is presented in court by asking that only one photo of Arbery “in life” should be permitted. Moreover, they maintained in a second motion, also obtained by CNN, that said photo should only show Arbery alone.
“This Court should limit the State to one photograph of Ahmaud Arbery in life, depicted alone, and to be introduced by non-related witness to avoid creating cumulative prejudicial error in the trial of this case,” read the filing in the Superior Court of Glynn County in Georgia, where the alleged crime took place.
A third motion asked that spectators not be allowed to wear Black Lives Matter-adorned apparel or masks in the courtroom. The BLM-centered slogan “I can’t breathe” is also asked to be off the table.
“The goal is to maintain the dignity and decorum of the courtroom and to ensure the safety of the courtroom and its open access to all witnesses and spectators, regardless of whether they support the state or the defense,” the attorneys claim.
Arbery Family attorney Lee Merritt responded to the motions, citing it is “obvious” Arbery was the victim of a violent crime. “If the only thing these attorneys can offer in defense is, ‘Well, terms like ‘victim’ are prejudicial,’ it smacks of desperation. [Their] continued goal of dehumanizing Ahmaud Arbery doesn’t seem like it’s been successful in the past,” Merritt explained. “I don’t imagine it’s a successful strategy for court.”
The two men and a third man, William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., 50, are being held without bond. Bryan, who allegedly ran Arbery down with his truck and then filmed his murder, is charged with felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
The McMichaels’ attorneys have been busy as recent as Dec. 30 and 31, where they ask the court to turn over all “disciplinary, criminal, and mental health records” pertaining to Ahmaud Arbery, the contents of his telephone records and social media accounts, and to exclude from evidence all recorded jail calls made by the McMichaels while they were held in the Glynn County Detention Center.
No date for the trial has been set.