Following their indictment last week on federal charges for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery last February, the three men involved have pleaded not guilty to hate crime and kidnapping charges.
The three men, Travis McMichael, 35, his father Gregory McMichael, 65, and 51-year-old William “Roddie” Bryan, stood in Georgia court yesterday in front of a federal judge and members of Ahmaud’s family and entered their not guilty pleas.
“This is the actual first time that we have actually been in the same courtroom with the people who are responsible for killing Ahmaud,” said Thea Brooks, Arbery’s aunt.
The three men were each charged with one count of interference with rights and one count of attempted kidnapping. Travis and Gregory McMichael were charged with one count of using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. Travis McMichael, who fatally shot Arbery, was also charged with discharging a firearm.
The Arbery family attorney, Lee Merritt, stated that he appreciated that the judge presiding over the case “took the time to walk through the charges and the facts to show how closely the facts of this case mirror actual hate crime charges which are difficult to reach in the US in a federal setting.”
Footage of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder was released in February of last year and sparked national outrage. The McMichaels and Bryan’s defense team have maintained that they were conducting a citizen’s arrest and cited self-defense.
The state trial is set to begin on October 18th.