A Georgia judge denied bail on Friday to two of three men accused of gunning down Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man whose slaying helped ignite a summer of national protests against systemic racism.
Travis McMichael, 34, and his father Gregory McMichael, 64, must remain behind bars, according to a ruling by Chatham County Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley after hearing testimony and arguments on the matter Thursday and Friday.
Their neighbor and co-defendant, William “Roddie” Bryan, had been denied bail earlier this summer.
In June, a grand jury indicted all three men on suspicion of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
The decision came after Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, asked the judge to deny the father and son bail because she said they would do the same thing again.
“These men are proud of what they’ve done,” she said. “In their selfish minds, they think they’re good guys.”
In court on Thursday, Cobb County Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Jesse Evans described social media posts and text messages from Travis McMichael that contained a racial slur and expressed “neo-Confederate views.”
In one message sent to a friend, Travis McMichael allegedly used a slur for Black people when referring to a “crackhead … with gold teeth.”
That friend, Zachary Langford, testified in court that he didn’t recall receiving the message, but later clarified that Travis McMichael wasn’t using a slur but “referring to a raccoon.”
Langford described Travis McMichael as a person who got along with everyone, and defense lawyers have denied that there was any racist intent in the deadly Feb. 23 shooting.
The McMichaels, who are white, followed and fatally shot Arbery, 25, who had been jogging in their neighborhood near Brunswick, a city in far southeastern Georgia that’s about 70 miles north of Jacksonville, Florida.
Bryan took video of the shooting and told police that he heard Travis McMichael use a racial slur after killing Arbery with a shotgun.
The case was assigned to prosecutors in Cobb County, just north of Atlanta, due to potential conflicts of interest. The elder McMichael has extensive ties to local law enforcement.
Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes, a Republican, was defeated last week by Democratic challenger Flynn Broady.
Broady has previously said he’ll vigorously pursue the prosecution of Arbery’s accused killers.