Investigator: Arbery murder suspect used racial slur

COBB COUNTY, Ga. (NBC) – A preliminary hearing in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery revealed shocking details.

A Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent says one of the men suspected in the killing used a racial epithet at the scene.

It was a hearing that sounded like a trial as Georgia prosecutors summed up their case against three white men accused of killing a 25-year-old black man running through their neighborhood.

Cobb County Chief Assistant District Attorney Jesse Evans said, “On February 23, 2020, victim Ahmaud Arbery was chased, hunted down and ultimately executed at the hands of these men.”

The three defendants, Gregory McMichael and his son Travis, and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., appeared via video link from the county jail.

The McMichaels initially told authorities they thought Arbery was a burglary suspect. The prosecution says Arbery had done nothing wrong.

Evans said, “The fact of the matter is that there is no evidence that these defendants saw a burglary, saw any crime, had any subject of belief or even a hunch by these civilians that would authorize their choices that they made to chase after and ultimately gun down this unarmed victim in the middle of the street.”

In fact, Arbery was out jogging the day he died. Friends says it’s what he loved to do.

Prosecutors detailed the events leading up to Arbery’s death, saying all three men, using two pickup trucks, became a neighborhood hunting party blocking, redirecting, and hitting Arbery as he tried to flee.

Before they finally cornered him, one of the suspects captured Arbery’s final moments on cell phone video.

On the witness stand the lead investigator in the case said 34-year-old Travis McMichael admitted to the first officers on the scene he deliberately shot Arbery three times with a shotgun.

Then Agent Richard Dial shocked the courtroom recounting what alleged co-conspirator William Bryan says Travis McMichael said next. Dial said, “Mr. Bryan said that after the shooting took place before the police’s arrival while Mr. Arbery was on the ground that he heard Travis McMichael make the statement f***** n*****.”

Arbery’s mother and father were both in the courtroom.

Defense Attorneys deny Travis McMichael ever made such a slur and say the men, two of whom were armed, merely wanted to talk to Arbery that day when Arbery suddenly turned and confronted them forcing Travis McMichael to fire in self-defense.

For two months the investigation of Arbery’s death by local authorities went nowhere. But when cell phone footage was leaked publicly showing Arbery’s death, state investigators took over the case and arrests soon followed.

Thursday it was revealed there is even more video on the cell phone of William Roddie Bryan, one of the accused, showing the deadly pursuit.

In the end, the judge ruled there was probable cause to try the three for Arbery’s murder.

Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes said, “Where the evidence leads us, is where we will follow and that’s what we did today.”

For Ahmaud Arbery’s family and supporters, it’s the first step on the long road to justice.

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