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    Judge denies bond for father and son charged in Ahmaud Arbery killing

    The Georgia father and son charged in the shooting death of unarmed Black man Ahmaud Arbery will remain behind bars after a judge on Friday denied their request to post bond.

    Judge Timothy Walmsley announced his ruling during the second day of arguments in a lengthy hearing that began Thursday, when defense attorneys brought several witnesses to testify on behalf of the suspects, arguing the pair poses no flight risk or threat to public safety.

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    But prosecutors urged the court to keep the two white men in jail as they await trial for the February killing of 25-year-old Arbery, who was chased and shot while jogging in a residential neighborhood outside Brunswick.

    Prosecutor Jesse Evans told the court Friday that ex-cop Gregory McMichael and his son Travis pose a “significant danger” to the community and should not be released. He also said the elder McMichael has “vigilante views” and could potentially try obstructing the ongoing investigation.

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    In this image made from video, from left, father and son, Gregory and Travis McMichael, accused in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia in February 2020, listen via closed circuit TV in the Glynn County Detention center in Brunswick, Ga., on Thursday, Nov. 12, as lawyers argue for bond to be set at the Glynn County courthouse.
    In this image made from video, from left, father and son, Gregory and Travis McMichael, accused in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia in February 2020, listen via closed circuit TV in the Glynn County Detention center in Brunswick, Ga., on Thursday, Nov. 12, as lawyers argue for bond to be set at the Glynn County courthouse. (Lewis Levine/AP)

    Prosecutors and racial justice activists believe racism played a key role in the killing, with critics describing the caught-on-video incident as an example of modern-day lynching.

    Evans also cited a series of online communications attributed to Travis McMichael, who fired the three fatal shots, as evidence of racism, including a 2019 text message in which he allegedly wrote about shooting “a crackhead c--n with gold teeth” and a year-old Facebook comment featuring an offensive term for Asians. Longtime friend Zachary Langford, who was part of those exchanges, denied during his testimony Thursday that his buddy was being racist.

    Attorney Laura Hogue, who represents Gregory McMichael, said the case is about self-defense and whether Georgia state law allowed him to arm himself so he could carry out a citizen’s arrest.

    “This case isn’t about race, your honor,” she told the judge, adding that her client’s “sole purpose” was to protect his community.

    This photo combo of images taken Thursday, May 7, 2020, and provided by the Glynn County Detention Center, in Georgia, show Gregory McMichael, left, and his son Travis McMichael.
    This photo combo of images taken Thursday, May 7, 2020, and provided by the Glynn County Detention Center, in Georgia, show Gregory McMichael, left, and his son Travis McMichael. (AP)

    The two suspects claim they were trying to question Arbery that day because he fit the description of a suspect in a string of burglaries in the neighborhood. They also say Arbery attacked them after being approached, allegedly forcing Travis McMichael to fire three rounds with his shotgun.

    Prosecutors and Arbery’s family dispute that narrative, saying the victim was simply jogging two miles from his home when the father and son “chased, hunted down and ultimately executed” him with the help of a neighbor, co-defendant William “Roddie” Bryan Jr.

    “These men are proud of what they have done,” Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, told the court on Thursday. “They want to go home because they think in their selfish minds that they are the good guys.”

    Surveillance footage shows the victim did go into a vacant construction site before the shooting, but there has been no evidence so far that he ever stole anything from the property and the homeowner said he never asked the McMichaels for any help.

    The three suspects avoided jail for more than two months and were arrested only after cellphone video of the shooting leaked on social media. The footage helped fuel a wave of protests against system racism across the country.

    Ahmaud Arbery was shot to death in February.
    Ahmaud Arbery was shot to death in February. (HANDOUT)

    Bryan, who captured part of the incident on his cellphone, was denied bond in July. He’s accused of helping his neighbors chase and ambush Arbery by hitting the victim with his truck moments before the killing.

    Bryan also told police in an interview that he overheard Travis McMichael uttering a racial slur as he stood over Arbery’s dead body after shooting him.

    Family members and friends insisted on Thursday that the McMichaels are not racist and felt remorse after the shooting.

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    “In no way, shape or form is Travis hateful towards any group of people, nor does he look down on anyone based on race, religion or beliefs,” Curt Hall, who was in the Coast Guard with Travis McMichael and described himself as “multiracial," said in a letter read in court Thursday.

    Bob Rubin, an attorney representing the younger McMichael, said the idea that his client would flee after posting bond is “ridiculous” because he has a 4-year-old son, was never charged with a crime before the shooting and believes he did nothing illegal.

    “He’s not a danger to flee," Rubin told the court Friday. "He’s not a danger to the community... In fact, he’s an asset to the community.”

    Hogue said Gregory McMichael also poses no risk of fleeing and would get better medical care if released because he previously suffered two heart attacks and a stroke.

    The three suspects, who joined the hearing via video, are charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. A trial data has not been set.

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