The attorneys for the men brought up to trial for the death of Ahmaud Arbery are asking a Georgia judge to ban images that show a Confederate vanity license plate on one of the accused killer’s truck.
According to a motion filed on Sept. 30, the attorneys argue that the license plate “is not relevant and would be prejudicial,” which goes into the defense’s claims that prosecutors hope to use the image to “draw the conclusion” that Ahmaud Arbery “feared the occupants in the truck because of the vanity plate,” and ran away as a result.
The motion also alleges that the prosecution wants to “create the inference that Travis McMichael placed the vanity plate on his truck in order to telegraph some reprehensible motive, bias, or prejudice,” which, in their opinion, “is not true.”
With jury selection in the trial scheduled to begin next week, Monday, Oct. 18, this will be a hotly debated topic should the judge choose to not include this bit of information during deliberations.
“… The fact that defendant Travis McMichael knowingly, intentionally and purposefully attached vanity plate to the front of his truck for all the world to see, has nothing to do with the State’s strategic decision regarding third-party communications that show racial animus,” prosecutors stated in their response to the motion to ban images of the vanity plate. “Defendant Travis McMichael’s choice, and the fact that this vanity plate was on the front of his pick-up truck on Feb. 23, 2020, are intrinsic evidence in this case and can be fully used by the State to illustrate the intent and motive of Travis McMichael.”
Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was shot to death at point-blank range while jogging in his local Brunswick, Ga. neighborhood. The McMichaels, under the belief that he had broken into a nearby home, grabbed their firearms and chased Arbery, while William “Roddie” Bryan filmed the killing. Bryan’s cell phone video captured Travis McMichael shooting Arbery, albeit McMichael’s latter’s attorneys argue that he shot Arbery in self-defense.
The McMichaels were not arrested until May 7, 2020. They were charged with murder and aggravated assault. Bryan, who was arrested two weeks after that, was charged with felony murder and a criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
At a preliminary hearing in June 2020, Travis McMichael was heard saying racial slurs after killing Arbery, and it supports the belief that his views were reflected through his vanity license plate.
All three men were indicted on federal hate crime charges in April and attempted kidnapping.