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Ahmaud Arbery Case: Seven Facts the Jury Will (Probably) Never Hear

Ahmaud Arbery Case: Seven Facts the Jury Will (Probably) Never Hear

Live trial coverage starts Monday, October 18, here at Legal Insurrection.

Welcome to today’s Law of Self Defense Members-only content! I am, of course, Attorney Andrew Branca, for Law of Self Defense.

Today I’d like to share with you seven demonstrably true facts surrounding the Ahmaud Arbery case that would appear to provide considerable context around Arbery’s deadly charge at Travis McMichael on February 23, 2020, resulting in Arbery’s death—but which the jury in the trial of Travis McMichael, his father Greg McMichael, and neighbor (and amateur videographer) William “Roddy” Bryan will probably never hear before arriving at verdicts in this case.

Recall that Arbery charged Travis McMichael after Travis and his father Greg McMichael had stopped their pickup truck in the street some distance from Arbery, with Travis standing outside the truck’s driver’s side door.  The event was being filmed by neighbor William “Roddy” Bryan on his phone, as he followed some further distance behind in his own vehicle.  The reason for the pursuit of Arbery was the belief that Arbery might have just committed a felony burglary of a local home under construction located at 220 Satilla Drive.

All three men have been charged with various degrees of murder and other felony charges, and their trial begins tomorrow, October 18, 2021, in Glynn County GA. Although it is those three men, and obviously not the deceased Arbery, who are on trial, for purposes of convenience I refer to their trial as the “Arbery Trial.”

As a reminder, I will be closely following the proceedings of this trial in real time as it occurs, starting tomorrow morning, Monday, October 18, 2021, over at Legal Insurrection, and doing an end-of-day legal analysis in plain English of each day’s events for your reading and educational enjoyment, with that end-of-day analysis available right here on YouTube and elsewhere.

Also, you can find ALL our coverage of the Ahmaud Arbery case, past, present, and future, over at Law of Self Defense, by pointing your browser to: http://lawofselfdefense.com/arbery

So, let’s get back to the seven demonstrably true facts surrounding the Ahmaud Arbery case that the jury will probably never hear before arriving at verdicts in this case.

With respect to each of these seven pieces of evidence that I’ll share with you in a moment that the jury will almost certainly never see presented at trial, the defense is arguing that the evidence is relevant to understanding the totality of the circumstances that led to Arbery charging Travis McMichael on February 23, 2020 and fighting him for control of McMichael’s shotgun.

In opposition, the State is arguing to varying degrees either that the evidence offered is irrelevant to the legal issues around self-defense in the case, or if relevant are so prejudicial that they should nevertheless be inadmissible.

Technically speaking the State opposes the introduction of such evidence using what are called motions in limine, or motions asking the court to “limit” the admissibility of certain evidence.

Many of the relevant motions in limine by the State, and responding motions by the defense, are embedded throughout the text version of today’s content, available at http://lawofselfdefense.com/arbery.

1. Arbery Was a Convicted Thief

As one example of Arbery’s theft activities, on February 6, 2018, Arbery entered a guilty plea to the offense of felony shoplifting, in connection with his attempt to shoplift a television from a Walmart.  Police body camera video of Arbery’s arrest in this incident can be viewed here:

This theft conviction can be found referenced in the defense motion in response to 4.71, embedded below, under fact #3.

The trial judge has prohibited the defense from presenting this evidence at trial.

2. Arbery Was Convicted Felon, Sentenced to 5 Years for Unlawful Gun Possession at a School

In 2013 Arbery was found guilty of felony gun possession on school grounds, as well as three counts of felony obstruction of an officer for his violent non-compliance with arrest that resulted in injury to officers.

As a result of this conviction Arbery was sentenced to five years in prison, but permitted to serve that sentence on probation.

This theft conviction can be found referenced in the defense motion in response to 4.71, embedded below, under fact #3.

The trial judge has prohibited the defense from presenting this evidence at trial.

3. Arbery Was On Felony Probation on the Date He Died

“Unexpectedly,” Arbery’s shoplifting conviction described above would result on the revocation of his probation for the gun conviction, also described above.  Nevertheless, Arbery was back out on probation on February 23, 2020, the date on which he charged Travis McMichael and was shot dead in the physical struggle that followed.

The state has filed a motion in limine to prohibit the defense from presenting this evidence at trial, to which the defense has objected.

Here’s the State’s motion 4.71 in limine on evidence of Arbery’s probationary status:

Here’s the defense response to the State’s motion 4.71 in limine on this evidence:

Although I do not see documentation of the trial judge making a final ruling on the admissibility of this evidence as of the production of this content, based on prior rulings on similar evidentiary issues I expect that the trial judge will, indeed, prohibit the defense from presenting this evidence Arbery’s probationary status at trial.

4. Arbery Was High When He Charged Travis McMichael and Fought for Shotgun

A comprehensive and powerful chemical test of Arbery’s blood conducted on July 14, 2020 found the presence of 3.2 ng/mL of THC—the active ingredient of marijuana—in Arbery’s system.

Interestingly, a less comprehensive and less powerful blood test conducted shortly after Arbery’s death had mistakenly come back negative for the presence of “drugs of abuse.”

The State intends to introduce this first blood test at trial, as evidence that Arbery was not intoxicated with drugs commonly associated with aggressive behavior at the time of his death.

At the same time, the State has asked the trial court to prohibit the defense from introducing the results of the more comprehensive and powerful second blood test that came back positive for THC in Arbery’s system at the time of his death.

Here is the state’s motion in limine to exclude the second blood test results:

Here is the defense response to the State’s motion in limine on this evidence:

Although I do not see documentation of the trial judge making a final ruling on the admissibility of this evidence as of the production of this content, based on prior rulings on similar evidentiary issues I expect that the trial judge will, indeed, prohibit the defense from presenting this evidence of Arbery’s THC intoxication at trial.

5. Arbery Was Literally “Off His Meds” When He Charged Travis McMichael

People close to Arbery had been noting his deteriorating mental health condition in the weeks leading up to his death on February 23, 2020, including his probation officer, who in 2018 had ordered a mental health evaluation of Arbery as a result of such concerns.

There is evidence that Arbery described to his mental health evaluator that he had auditory delusions that compelled him to rob, steal, and hurt people, leading him into combative behavior, and anger that led to difficulty for him both inside and outside his home.

Arbery, as a result of this mental health evaluation, was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, which is often characterized by uncontrolled violence, aggression, and poor impulse control.

Consistent with these violent characteristics of this disorder, in June 2018 Arbery’s own mother had called 911 to report that Arbery was withholding her car keys from her. She cautioned the 911 dispatcher that Arbery’s mental condition had worsened over time. She also cautioned the responding police officers that Arbery might get violent due to his mental illness if they tried to arrest him.

Arbery was subsequently prescribed psychiatric medication, specifically Zyprexa (olanzapine), in an effort to control his schizoaffective disorder.

Blood tests performed after Arbery’s death indicated absolutely no detectable Zyprexa in his system, meaning he was literally “off his meds” (non-compliant with prescribed psychiatric medication) on the date he charged Travis McMichael and fought for control of the shotgun.

The State has asked the court to prohibit the defense from introducing evidence of either Arbery’s psychiatric disorder as well as of his non-compliance with prescribed medication to control that disorder.

Here is the initial defense motion to have Arbery’s mental health status admitted as evidence:

Here’s the state’s objection to that motion:

Here is the state’s later motion in limine to exclude the psychiatric evidence:

Here is the defense response to the State’s motion in limine on this evidence:

Although I do not see documentation of the trial judge making a final ruling on the admissibility of this evidence as of the production of this content, based on prior rulings on similar evidentiary issues I expect that the trial judge will, indeed, prohibit the defense from presenting this evidence of Arbery’s non-compliance with his prescribed psychiatric disorder.

6. Arbery Frequently Used “Jogging” As a Cover To Facilitate/Excuse Theft Activities

On August 21, 2018 Arbery was observed, and body camera recorded, in a neighbor’s backyard looking into her car windows.  When police approached Arbery afterwards to give him a trespass warning he falsely claimed that he had simply been “running in the street.”  He then became aggressive and confrontational with the officers, threatening that he would “whip the officer’s ass” if they didn’t leave him alone.  He was not arrested.

On October 23, 2018 Arbery was confronted trespassing inside a mobile home by local Deputies.  Arbery fled when approached by police. When later caught, he falsely claimed that he “was just out running.”

In 2019 and 2020 Arbery was repeatedly seen attempting to enter neighboring homes through their windows. Whenever confronted in the act, Arbery would “take off running.”

Also in 2019 and 2020, local convenience store owners began to refer to Arbery as “the jogger” for his repeated conduct of running up in front of convenience stores, going through stretching motions, and then entering the convenience store to seize items and then running quickly back out to flee with the stolen merchandise.

Here’s the defense motion to admit evidence of Arbery’s “jogging” as cover and excuse for his theft activities:

Although I do not see documentation of the trial judge making a final ruling on the admissibility of this evidence as of the production of this content, based on prior rulings on similar evidentiary issues I expect that the trial judge will, indeed, prohibit the defense from presenting this evidence of Arbery’s modus operandi of using “jogging” as a cover to facilitate and excuse his theft activities.

7. Arbery Had Repeatedly Cased the 220 Satilla Drive Property For Weeks Prior to His Death

On October 25, 2019, surveillance video at 220 Satilla Drive captured Arbery at night and in the dark inside the property, presumably canvassing the property for valuables.

On November 18, 2019, surveillance video again captured Arbery at night and in the dark canvassing the 220 Satilla Drive property, presumably for the same unlawful purpose.

On February 11, 2020, surveillance video, this time accompanied by eye witness accounts and 911 recordings, once again captured Arbery at night inside the 220 Satilla Drive property.

And, of course, on February 23, 2020, the date that Arbery would be killed fighting Travis McMichael for control of McMichael’s shotgun, Arbery was in flight from having again trespassed into the 220 Satilla Drive property, again as captured on surveillance video, and presumably observed by others thus initiating the pursuit of the fleeing Arbery, and again presumably for unlawful purposes, constituting felony burglary under Georgia law.

(To touch back on the “jogging” modus operandi of Arbery, his family has characterized his flight from this presumptive felony burglary as mere recreational jogging.)

Each of the trespassing/burglary incidents just mentioned can be found referenced in the “1.14” motion embedded immediately above.

Although I do not see documentation of the trial judge making a final ruling on the admissibility of this evidence as of the production of this content, based on prior rulings on similar evidentiary issues I expect that the trial judge will, indeed, prohibit the defense from presenting this evidence of Arbery’s prior trespasses into 220 Satilla Drive, presumptively for unlawful purposes and thus constituting repeated acts of felony burglary under Georgia law.

Wrap-Up

So, those are seven demonstrably true facts surrounding the Ahmaud Arbery case that would appear to provide considerable context around Arbery’s deadly charge at Travis McMichael on February 23, 2020, resulting in Arbery’s death—but which the jury in the trial of Travis McMichael, his father Greg McMichael, and neighbor (and amateur videographer) William “Roddy” Bryan will probably never hear before arriving at verdicts in this case.

And remember: I will be closely following the proceedings of this trial in real time as it occurs, starting tomorrow morning, Monday, October 18, 2021, at Legal Insurrection, and doing an end-of-day legal analysis in plain English of each day’s events for your reading and educational enjoyment, with that end-of-day analysis available right here on YouTube and elsewhere.

Also, you can find ALL mycoverage of the Ahmaud Arbery case, past, present, and future, over at Law of Self Defense, by pointing your browser to: http://lawofselfdefense.com/arbery

OK, folks, that’s all I have for you on this topic.

Until next time:

Remember

You carry a gun so you’re hard to kill.

Know the law so you’re hard to convict.

Stay safe!

–Andrew

Attorney Andrew F. Branca
Law of Self Defense LLC

Nothing in this content constitutes legal advice. Nothing in this content establishes an attorney-client relationship, nor confidentiality. If you are in immediate need of legal advice, retain a licensed, competent attorney in the relevant jurisdiction.

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Comments

Yet to hear this tragic event discussed on NPR, from reporters and family members you would come away believing that our friendly jogger liked jogging in this quiet neighborhood because it was “away from main roads.” His peaceful jog was suddenly interrupted by two pickup driven by racists suddenly chasing him and attempting to run him down (a la Mad Max) for the crime of “jogging while black.” Failing in their attempts, the racists then brutally gunned him down with their shotguns.

Naturally, everyone involved can’t believe that the horrible murderers were not immediately arrested and charged.

But this is in Glen County. The DA is just this side of worthless.

Isn’t it pretty standard in self-defense cases that stuff the defendants didn’t know at the time of the incident is inadmissible?

I mean the issue to be decided is not whether or not Arbery was a bad guy, it’s whether or not the defendants had the legal authority to arrest him.

    Colonel Travis in reply to Dennis. | October 17, 2021 at 8:19 pm

    I don’t know if another video has surfaced, I only know of one. But from that one, it is clear that the GA citizens arrest law at the time (state has since changed that law) is irrelevant to whether the McMichaels acted in self-defense.

    The Prosecution-Media Narrative has never seen it that way, obviously. Arbrey was killed for jogging-while-black by white supremacists.

      Arbery did his best to avoid the McMichaels and only attacked once they had him boxed in. If the McMichaels had no authority to make a citizen’s arrest, then it was Arbery who was defending himself from a gang of criminals.

        Colonel Travis in reply to Dennis. | October 17, 2021 at 10:51 pm

        1.) Where is the evidence they illegally detained him?

        2.) Boxing in is your language. It’s not the language of the Ga. statute, nor is it what happened. They stopped their truck in front of the running Arbery. Arbery can’t be running around if he’s boxed in. He also charged a shotgun-holding Travis McMichael. This is what normal people call “idiotic.” McMichael has every reason to believe his life was in danger at that point.

          Arbery was only running at McMichael because McMichael jumped in front of him.

          TheAbidingDude in reply to Colonel Travis. | October 25, 2021 at 11:22 am

          They didn’t illegally detain him. NOr did they attempt to engage in a citizen’s arrest.

          One person brandished a shotgun at him. That is aggravated assault in the absence of a citizen’s arrest.

        Char Char Binks in reply to Dennis. | October 18, 2021 at 9:19 am

        If

    Ben Kent in reply to Dennis. | October 17, 2021 at 9:44 pm

    Dennis – the Defendants chased after Aubrey because they suspected him of being a thief. The fact that he was, indeed, a thief is relevant because it confirms their suspicion was correct. In other words – they were not just making up a story to just go chase after some black jogger. They had reason to suspect him and it turn out there was a basis for that reason.

    This seems HIGHLY RELEVANT. It is elemental to the Defendants’ case.

    For me, personally, I always wondered if the Defendants pursuit was based on real suspicion of trespass with intent to steal – or if it was a pretext. With the information revealed here – I am now solidly convinced that the pursuit was legitimate and not just some pretext to go after a black man – as many are trying to spin this.

      GeorgeRoberts in reply to Ben Kent. | October 17, 2021 at 11:32 pm

      “The fact that he was, indeed, a thief is relevant because it confirms their suspicion was correct.”

      They acted on suspicions, not knowledge. Aubrey had no outstanding warrants. The defendants had no direct knowledge that he had committed a felony, which he had not. Only what the defendants knew at the time is relevant.

        Ben Kent in reply to GeorgeRoberts. | October 18, 2021 at 9:26 am

        Well, what they say they knew at the time was that he was seen trespassing multiple times and they suspected he was a thief.

        The prosecution will try to claim they chased after him because he is black and they are racist rednecks.. The prosecution will say that they had to other reason to chase him because he was just jogging through the neighborhood. They will say that the suspicion of the defendants was just a pretext. Perhaps you are in the camp that is fine with that false narrative.

        The information about Aubrey’s past counter’s the narrative that they just chased him because he is black. It validates the legitimacy of their suspicion.

        I’m not saying anything more than that they had a good reason to chase him and at least question him. I have no comment on whether force was justified. I need to look more closely at the evidence before forming an opinion on use of force. It is entirely feasible that the chase was justified but the use of force was not. We will see.

    henrybowman in reply to Dennis. | October 18, 2021 at 1:31 pm

    But my understanding is that these men DID know Aubery’s criminal history — certainly not in full detail, but enough to know his MO and some of his priors.

Subotai Bahadur | October 17, 2021 at 8:52 pm

The items that the jury will not hear constitute just another example of how political correctness outweighs law and facts. Get used to it.

Subotai Bahadur

What is the quality and capacity of the defense council in this case? In the case of Chauvin, a big factor was that the defense was complety outgunned by the prosecution. I hope the defense has the capacity this time to fend off the onslaught of drama and political pressure so that the merits of the case can determine the outcome instead.

With all that evidence, this would be a slam dunk acquittal. Ahmaud Arbery was just another useless, worse than useless POS.

In the court of public opinion, these defendants are just awaiting sentencing. The narrative is upmost and the standards have been met. Preponderance of innuendo is final and not subject to appeal.

    Ben Kent in reply to Romey. | October 17, 2021 at 11:05 pm

    The Social Justice Mob has reached a verdict.

    >> It is societal extortion.

    They say – deliver the verdict we want – or we riot … (sorry, “peacefully protest”).

    Media is complicit — encouraging racial, ethic, religious and gender conflict.

James B. Shearer | October 18, 2021 at 2:35 am

I would agree that most of this stuff should be excluded. However if the prosecution is going to introduce one drug test that didn’t detect drugs in Arbery’s system then the defense should be able to introduce a more sensitive drug test that did detect drugs in Arbery’s system. Either allow both or neither. And regarding the videos, if the defendants had seen them prior to the incident then perhaps they should be admissible.

And how about information favorable to the prosecution like Gregory McMichael’s inability to keep his training up to date while he was working. Is some of that being excluded as well?

    My thoughts exactly, regarding the drug tests. Allowing the one but excluding the other denies the defendants a full and thorough defense. Since Arbery’s toxicology results are clearly on the (evidentiary) table, the defense team must be allowed to introduce their own exculpatory evidence.

    Especially if the observed Arbery acting strangely or irrationally and suspected he might be high — enough so that a drug screening was administered in the first place — because that would be information available to them at the time of the incident.

    But the rest? It may be relevant, but the defendants probably didn’t know it at the time, so it probably is inadmissible.

America is falling apart, a big part of the problem is putting up with habitual criminals who are parasitic.

“The State intends to introduce this first blood test at trial, as evidence that Arbery was not intoxicated with drugs commonly associated with aggressive behavior at the time of his death.”

This is a little confusing. Since when is THC “associated with aggressive behavior?” If that’s the goal, they should be introducing the test that SHOWED the THC.

    AnAdultInDiapers in reply to henrybowman. | October 18, 2021 at 5:19 pm

    The objection to the test showing THC is that (the prosecution states) there’s no causal link between ‘presence of THC’ and aggressive behaviour. So the prosecution are presenting a test that shows he wasn’t chemically aggressive, and the defence’s blood test doesn’t provide clarity on that fact either way.

    I’d exclude the prosecution one anyway. Whether he was on drugs or not doesn’t change whether he was aggressive or not, and that’s what the people he attacked responded to. Someone tries to forcibly take your rifle from you it’s just not relevant whether they’re on drugs or not, it’s still a threat.

    Of course, the defence should be inviting the expert describing the blood test to tell the jury whether Arbery’s prescribed behavioural medication was in his blood stream or not. I suspect the judge will get grumpy about that.

i see! violence, aggression, and poor impulse control are mental dis-orders. ah hah! okee dokee. always figured poor parenting or a mom teaching a young male what it is to be a man might be a reason. huh.

Colonel Towner | October 19, 2021 at 9:45 am

This case illustrates the ridiculous nature of our legal system. The accused knew a neighbor had repeatedly caught someone casing their house. They knew the person was always dressed in jogging clothes. In my neighborhood (I live in the south), we know all the local convenience stores workers. They are are neighbors. Tiffany someone had repeatedly robbed one we’d all know. For a judge to insist the jurors remain ignorant of all the relevant contextual circumstances in a case insures one thing: injustice.

    TheAbidingDude in reply to Colonel Towner. | October 25, 2021 at 11:28 am

    They did not know; they had heard from a neighbor. They did not actually witness Arbery enter or exit the property.

    They also failed to perform a citizen’s arrest, and instead engaged in aggravated assault.

    Let’s replace Arbery with a CCW holder. Would you indict the CCW holder if he’d given Travis two the chest and one to the head?

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