GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. — A resident of the Satilla Shores neighborhood where Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed on Feb. 23, 2020 testified Wednesday about his phone call to police.
Matt Albenze, a resident of the neighborhood who called officers when he saw Arbery walk onto an unfinished home construction site, was asked if he felt guilt over things and responded, "I did."
Albenze testified that when he saw Arbery stand around in front yard of the unfinished home, and then go in, he walked down to the corner and called police.
That recording was played in court, and prosecutors paid note to the fact that he called the non-emergency police number in Glynn County, instead of 911.
He was asked if someone was breaking in, and in the call said: "No it's all open, under construction," before noting that Arbery began running off.
The unfinished home is at the center of the case, with defense attorneys focusing on the fact that Arbery was allegedly seen on home surveillance videos entering onto the property a number of times in the months leading up to his death and becoming in the minds of some neighbors - including the men accused of murder in the trial - a "suspect" in break-ins and thefts around the neighborhood.
There is no evidence Arbery ever took anything or committed any damage at the home, and the owner has said he did not suspect Arbery of taking anything.
Prosecutors also prodded at a narrative presented by the defense earlier in the trial that Albenze waved father and son Greg and Travis McMichael - who initiated the chase of Arbery that led to his death by gunshot from Travis - in Arbery's direction down the street when they began chasing him.
Albenze was asked if he remembered "making any sort of motion" and "who are you doing that to?"
"I was just thinking to myself, he's running down the street," Albenze said.
"Were you intending to communicate to anyone in particular at that time?"
"Did you call Greg or Travis?"
"Communicate with them in any way, shape, or form?"
Under cross-examination, defense attorneys highlighted statements Albenze made to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in which he said he "suspected" Arbery had seen him, and that's why he ran off.
He was asked if he felt some guilt over how events played out, and said he did.
"Because you felt like you put into motion these events that turned tragic," the defense attorney said.
"I thought maybe if he hadn't seen me, he wouldn't have run of away," Albenze said.
"And that of course weighs heavy on your heart," the defense attorney said.
Attorneys also presented dueling framings of the result of Albenze's call to police, with the prosecution emphasizing that Arbery ran away from the direction that would have taken him out of the neighborhood, as if to flee.
The defense took that same fact and emphasized it as the direction that would have taken Arbery toward police entering the neighborhood.