On Thursday, after an investigator offered heartbreaking new details about the events that led up to the death of Ahmaud Arbery—including that one of the men was heard using a racial slur after Arbery was killed—a Georgia judge ruled that the three men charged in Arbery’s death would stand trial for murder.
A Glynn County judge ruling that Greg McMichael, Travis McMichael and William Bryan will all be tried for murder, according to the Washington Post. Richard Dial, an investigator for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation who testifying over the course of several hours, provided a detailed timeline of the events leading up to Arbery’s death on Feb. 25 and the moments after it.
One of the more notable revelations was that Bryan told investigators Travis McMichael called Arbery a “fucking nigger” after Arbery was shot and laid dying on the street. A search of McMichael’s social media history revealed multiple instances of him using the slur in both a private Instagram message and a post where he said he loved his Coast Guard job because there “weren’t any n words anywhere.”
Dial also argued that it was Arbery who was acting in self-defense, not Travis McMichael, who shot Arbery three times.
“I don’t believe it was self-defense by Mr. McMichael. I believe it was self-defense by Mr. Arbery. I believe Mr. Arbery was being pursued, and he ran until he couldn’t run anymore. And it was: turn his back to a man with a shotgun, or fight with his bare hands against a man with a shotgun, and he chose to fight.” Dial said.
Arbery was out for a jog in the Satilla Shores neighborhood outside of Brunswick, Ga., when Travis and Greg McMichael, believing that he was responsible for a string of break-ins in the neighborhood, armed themselves and chased after him. When Bryan witnessed the men chasing Arbery in front of his home, Bryan got into his vehicle and joined them. According to Dial’s testimony, the men engaged in a prolonged and elaborate chase of Arbery with Bryan striking Arbery with his truck at one point. Arbery eventually confronted Travis McMichael, resulting in him being shot three times and dying on the scene.
Controversy has surrounded the handling of the case. Three prosecutors have recused themselves from the case with the first two due to conflicts of interest. Video of Arbery’s death, recorded by Bryan, leaked onto the internet in early May and after national outrage, the GBI took on the case and arrested Travis and Greg McMichael, 74 days after the shooting occurred. Bryan was arrested later in the same month.
Travis and Greg McMichael face charges of felony murder and aggravated assault. William Bryan faces charges of felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. If convicted, all three men face life in prison.