(Trends Wide) — Travis McMichael, one of those accused of hunting down and killing Ahmaud Arbery, was the first witness to take the stand this Wednesday afternoon, when the defense began to present its case.
“I want to give my version of events,” he said at the beginning of his testimony.
Before the defense called their first witness at trial, an attorney for one of the defendants gave a long-delayed opening statement, arguing that there is no evidence that William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. tried to harm Arbery.
The Arbery case
Arbery was jogging in the Satilla Shores neighborhood, outside the city of Brunswick, when the McMichaels grabbed their guns and chased him. Gregory McMichael told police they went after Arbery because they suspected he was responsible for a series of alleged close robberies. A local police spokesman later said that only one robbery had been reported in more than seven weeks prior to the shooting.
Gregory McMichael, a former police officer and district attorney investigator, told police that Arbery and his son fought over his son’s shotgun before Travis McMichael shot Arbery after the latter attacked him, according to a report. police. Bryan joined the chase and recorded the shooting on his phone.
Following the deadly shooting, the case lay dormant for more than two months and two prosecutors recused themselves due to conflicts of interest. But video footage of Arbery’s murder appeared on May 5, 2020, prompting protests and orders for the arrest of the men involved.
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Attorneys for the three men said they were acting in self-defense. But the opposite was true, said Deputy Special Agent in Charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations Richard Dial during a preliminary hearing last June.
“I think Mr. Arbery was being chased, and he ran until he couldn’t run anymore, and it was turning his back on a man with a shotgun or fighting with his bare hands against the man with the shotgun,” Dial said.
“I think Mr. Arbery’s decision was to simply try to escape, and when he felt he could not escape, he decided to fight,” he added.
Trends Wide’s Eric Levenson, Dakin Andone, Angela Barajas, and Devon M. Sayers contributed to this report.