3 men indicted on murder charges in killing of Ahmaud Arbery

ATLANTA (AP) — A prosecutor on Wednesday announced that three men have been indicted on murder charges in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in coastal Georgia.

Speaking to reporters outside the Glynn County courthouse, prosecutor Joyette Holmes said a grand jury has indicted Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. on charges including malice and felony murder in the death of the African American man.

“This is another positive step, another great step for finding justice for Ahmaud, for finding justice for this family and the community beyond,” Holmes said during the news conference, which was streamed online by news outlets.

Lawyers for the McMichaels have cautioned against a rush to judgment and have said the full story will come out in court. A lawyer for Bryan has maintained that his client was merely a witness.

Arbery was slain Feb. 23 when the Greg and Travis McMichael, a white father and son, armed themselves and pursued the 25-year-old Black man running in their neighborhood. Greg McMichael told police he suspected Arbery was a burglar and that Arbery attacked his son before being shot.

Bryan lives in the same subdivision, just outside the port city of Brunswick. Bryan said he saw the McMichaels driving by and joined the chase, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent testified earlier this month.

It wasn’t until May 7 — two days after Bryan’s cellphone video leaked online and stirred a national outcry — that the McMichaels were arrested. Bryan was arrested on May 22, and an arrest warrant said he tried “to confine and detain” Arbery without legal authority by “utilizing his vehicle on multiple occasions” before Arbery was shot.

In addition to malice murder and felony murder charges, the McMichaels and Bryan each are charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one count each of false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.

Court functions in Georgia have been severely limited in recent months because of a statewide judicial emergency declared by the chief justice of the state Supreme Court in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Holmes said they were able to call in a grand jury that had been impaneled prior to the judicial emergency. They followed public guidelines, providing hand sanitizer to the grand jurors and allowing them to sit far apart, she said.

Because of the uncertainty caused by the virus, the Arbery family didn't know when the next steps would be taken after a probable cause hearing held earlier this month, Holmes said. But they were notified as soon as the grand jury returned an indictment, she said.

“The family was ecstatic to hear that it had happened this morning," she said.

Bob Rubin, a lawyer for Travis McMichael, said in an email that prosecutors choose the facts they want to present to a grand jury when seeking an indictment. The defense team has found other facts “that are an integral part of the case,” he wrote.

“To this indictment, Travis McMichael will plead not guilty, and we look forward to presenting all of the facts regarding this tragic death in a court of law,” Rubin wrote.

Attorney Kevin Gough, who represents Bryan, spoke to reporters at the county courthouse right after Holmes announced the indictment.

“We welcome the action of the grand jury today,' Gough said. "While we disagree with it, it’s an important step in the process to moving this case closer to the speedy trial that Roddie has demanded.”

He said his client has committed no crime and has cooperated with law enforcement officers from the beginning.

Lawyers for Greg McMichael did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Wednesday afternoon.

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Lee Merritt, a lawyer representing the family of Ahmaud Arbery, poses for a photo by a mural in the likeness of Arbery painted by artist Theo Ponchaveli in Dallas, Saturday, May 9, 2020. Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, has said she thinks her son, a former high school football player, was jogging for exercise before he was killed on Feb. 23. After a video of the shooting emerged on social media, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, on Wednesday, arrested Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, and they were jailed on murder and aggravated assault charges. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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. The two have been charged with murder in the February shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, whom they had pursued in a truck after spotting him running in their neighborhood. (Glynn County Detention Center via AP)
BRUNSWICK, GA - MAY 09: Jasmine Arbery, sister of Ahmaud Arbery (R), and Wanda Cooper-Jones, Ahmaud's mother, comfort one another while people gather to honor Ahmaud at Sidney Lanier Park on May 9, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Arbery was shot and killed while jogging in the nearby Satilla Shores neighborhood on February 23. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
BRUNSWICK, GA - MAY 09: Akeem Baker (R), best friend to Ahmaud Arbery, and Jasmine Arbery, Ahmaud's sister, speak to a crowd gathered to honor the life of Ahmaud at Sidney Lanier Park on May 9, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Arbery was shot and killed while jogging in the nearby Satilla Shores neighborhood on February 23. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
BRUNSWICK, GA - MAY 09: Umoja Spaulding (L) and Ben Butler run across the Sidney Lanier Bridge to honor Ahmaud Arbery on May 9, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Arbery was shot and killed while jogging in the nearby Satilla Shores neighborhood on February 23. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
BRUNSWICK, GA - MAY 09: People return to their vehicles after gathering to honor the life of Ahmaud Arbery at Sidney Lanier Park on May 9, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Arbery was shot and killed while jogging in the nearby Satilla Shores neighborhood on February 23. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
BRUNSWICK, GA - MAY 09: People gather to honor Ahmaud Arbery at Sidney Lanier Park on May 9, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Arbery was shot and killed while jogging in the nearby Satilla Shores neighborhood on February 23. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
BRUNSWICK, GA - MAY 09: Demonstrators raise their fists at a parade of passing motorcyclists riding in honor of Ahmaud Arbery at Sidney Lanier Park on May 9, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Arbery was shot and killed while jogging in the nearby Satilla Shores neighborhood on February 23. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
BRUNSWICK, GA - MAY 08: A young girl looks at a memorial for Ahmaud Arbery near where he was shot and killed May 8, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael were arrested the previous night and charged with murder relating to the February 23 shooting in the Satilla Shores neighborhood. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
BRUNSWICK, GA - MAY 08: Gary Arbery, an uncle to Ahmaud Arbery, speaks to demonstrators during a protest of the shooting death of his nephew at the Glynn County Courthouse on May 8, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael were arrested the previous night and charged with murder. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
BRUNSWICK, GA - MAY 08: Family of Ahmaud Arbery embrace at the Glynn County Courthouse during a protest of the shooting death of Arbery on May 8, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael were arrested the previous night and charged with murder. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
BRUNSWICK, GA - MAY 08: Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery at the Glynn County Courthouse on May 8, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael were arrested the previous night and charged with murder. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
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