Attorneys for the men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man who was gunned down in February 2020, have made a rather interesting demand of the court. They requested that the court stop referring to Arbery as a “victim.”
CNN, which obtained a copy of the court filing in which the demand was made, reported that the lawyers representing Gregory and Travis McMichael “are asking that Arbery not be called a ‘victim’ in the trial because they say it would be prejudicial, according to one of several motions they filed in the last days of December.”
The attorneys argued that “Due process requires minimal injection of error or prejudice into these proceedings. Use of terms such as ‘victim’ allows the focus to shift to the accused rather than remain on the proof of every element of the crimes charged.”
This was just one in a series of demands that the defense put forward. They are also asking that only one photo of Arbery “in life” should be allowed to be shown in the courtroom. In a second filing, the attorneys asked that the picture should show Arbery alone and that only non-family members should be able to identify Arbery in the photo.
“Therefore, this Court should limit the State to one photograph of Ahmaud Arbery in life, depicted alone, and to be introduced by nonrelated witness to avoid creating cumulative prejudicial error in the trial of this case,” the lawyers wrote.
The attorneys also asked the court to disallow spectators to wear Black Lives matter apparel such as shirts and masks in the courtroom during the proceedings. They asserted that the objective with these requests is to “maintain the dignity and decorum of the courtroom and to ensure the safety of the courtroom and its open access to all witnesses and spectators, regardless of whether they support the state or the defense.”
Ahmaud Arbery was shot to death by Travis McMichael after he, his father, and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan chased him down because they suspected that he was involved in a series of burglaries that had occurred in the neighborhood. Arbery had been out jogging on the day of the incident.
The men were not arrested until May, after leaked video footage of the encounter brought about a national outcry. Many believed that the officials in charge of handling the case were attempting to sweep it under the rug because the original district attorney intervened and stopped police officers from arresting the McMichaels. However, the release of the footage prompted the authorities to finally take action.
The father and son have been charged with murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. Bryan, who allegedly struck Arbery with his truck during the chase is charged with felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. All three are being held without bond. The trial date has not been set yet.
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