BRUNSWICK, Ga. —
October 18 began jury selection for trial against three men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery.
Back on February 23, 2020, Arbery was jogging through a south Georgia neighborhood when he was accosted and eventually chased by three men.
Arbery was shot and killed during the encounter, but his death did not gain national attention until May when a graphic cell phone video showing the encounter surfaced online.
One year later, a federal lawsuit was filed arguing the men who allegedly killed him violated his civil rights.
Who is on trial?
Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William Bryan each face nine counts in the 2020 killing. Those charges include malice murder; felony murder (four counts); aggravated assault (two counts); false imprisonment; and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
Arbrey was shot and killed by Travis McMichael after he and his father, Gregory McMichael, confronted him, suspecting Arbrey of breaking into homes in the area, according to investigators.
Arbery's family has said he was jogging in the Satilla Shores neighborhood.
According to a police report, Bryan joined the McMichael's in the chase and tried to stop Arbery, as well as block him in. At some point, Bryan began to record the chase on his cell phone.
The three defendants were formally indicted on charges in June after being arrested in May 2020, following leaked cellphone video of the shooting, which was filmed by Bryan.
Earlier this year, all three defendants were also charged with federal hate crimes and kidnapping charges.
The legal teams
The prosecutor on the case will be former Cobb County D.A. Joyette Holmes.
Though the case originated in Bruswick County, it was handed over to a Cobb County D.A. when Former Brunswick district attorney Jackie Johnson came under fire for her handling.
Johnson reportedly had the video of Arbery’s death months before it surfaced publicly and, according to an indictment against her back in September, is accused of ordering police not to arrest Travis McMichael. Gregory McMichael was notably a long-time employee of the D.A.’s office.
Now, she is charged with violation of oath of a public officer and obstruction, and could face several years in prison if convicted.
Meanwhile, Arbery’s parents, Marcus Arbery and Wanda Cooper-Jones have hired their own legal team, including national civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Lee Merritt. Attorneys L. Chris Stewart and Justin Miller of Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys will also be providing co-counsel with attorney S. Lee Merritt and Mawuli “Mel” Davis, a civil rights attorney at Davis-Boseman-Johnson Law firm, is also believed to be representing Arbery’s parents.
Arbery’s parents and their attorneys are intending to make this a civil rights case.
Meanwhile, on the defense will be:
- Kevin Gough, acting as attorney for William “Roddie” Bryan
- Robert Rubin & Jason Sheffield, acting as attorneys for Travis McMichael
- Laura and Frank Hough, acting as attorneys for Gregory McMichael
The appointment of the Houghs is particularly significant, as the two have acted as attorneys in several high-profile cases. Since 2000, they have had as clients nine defendants who at some point faced the death penalty if convicted.
According to Macon.com the Hough’s firm’s present clients include Donnie Rowe, accused of gunning down two prison guards in an escape from a transport bus in Putnam County, and Ronnie Adrian “Jay” Towns, who allegedly shot and killed Bud and June Runion in 2015 after they met in Telfair County in an apparent car-buying deal arranged on Craigslist.
In seven of their now-closed cases, those accused received life sentences. Those convictions include the case against Stephen McDaniel, who was represented by Frank Hogue and Floyd M. Buford Jr., in the 2011 slaying of Mercer law graduate Lauren Giddings.
In a 2011 interview, Frank Hogue told The Telegraph, “I oppose the death penalty. I think it’s uncivilized, ineffective and ought to go.”