BRUNSWICK, Ga. — A small Georgia town is preparing for the murder trial of the three white men charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black jogger whose shooting was captured on video last year.
Greg McMichael, 65; his son Travis, 35; and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, are accused of killing Arbery after spotting him running in their neighborhood on Feb. 23, 2020. Bryan filmed part of the shooting in a video that sparked national outrage over a lack of arrests for more than two months.
Arbery was shot three times at close range with a shotgun. Defense lawyers for the McMichaels say they were trying to make a citizen’s arrest because they believed Arbery was a burglary suspect, saying Travis McMichael shot Arbery in self-defense.
Prosecutors say Arbery was jogging and have asked the judge to allow them to present evidence supporting the idea that racial bias led to the killing.
A 'lynching' or self-defense? 'Race will be front and center' as trial begins for murder of Ahmaud Arber
Jury selection begins Monday. Here's what to know about the trial of Greg McMichael, Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan:
Who was Ahmaud Arbery?
Friends and family say Arbery, 25, was a frequent runner who had dreams of becoming an electrician like three of his uncles.
Arbery started playing flag football at 6 years old and would continue to play at Brunswick High School. He attended South Georgia Technical College for about a year and a half but stopped when money got tight for the family, his mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones told USA TODAY in 2020.
Arbery's childhood friend Akeem Baker remembers him as a funny, likable man who Baker gravitated toward instantly at a young age.
"He’s the type of person that loves to make jokes," said Baker, who plans to be in the courtroom during the trial. "I looked at Maud like a brother."
How did Ahmaud Arbery die?
Arbery was fatally shot while jogging Feb. 23, 2020, in the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick, a small Georgia town about 70 miles south of Savannah.
No arrests were made in the case for more than two months until video of the incident –shot by defendant Bryan – was released by a Georgia attorney.
In the short clip, a white pickup blocks the view of the beginning of the struggle. A gunshot is heard, then Arbery and Travis McMichael are seen with their hands on a weapon that is angled upward, toward Arbery.
The struggle again goes out of view and Gregory McMichael is seen in the back of the truck. A second shot is heard, and the camera shifts back to the fight where Arbery is throwing punches. A third gunshot is heard, and Arbery falls to the ground.
Who are the defendants?
Gregory McMichael is a retired investigator for the Brunswick district attorney's office and a former officer for the Glynn County Police Department.
His son, Travis, was a law enforcement officer in the U.S. Coast Guard who later worked at the naval base near Brunswick, according to his lawyer Rob Rubin.
In a statement last year, Bryan's attorney, Kevin Gough, described Bryan as a witness and said Bryan lost his job as a result of the shooting.
Where is the trial taking place?
The trial is being held in Brunswick, Georgia, about 70 miles south of Savannah. Arbery was killed while running in the quiet coastal town's Satilla Shores neighborhood.
Brunswick, which has just over 16,000 residents, is predominantly Black but sits in the overwhelmingly white Glynn County.
What are the charges in Arbery's murder?
The McMichaels and Bryan have been charged with malice murder and felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and one count of false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
The trio are not facing state hate crimes charges because Georgia didn't have hate crime legislation at the time, but they have been federally charged with violating Arbery's civil rights.
They also face a wrongful death civil lawsuit from Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones.
How much jail time could the suspects face?
If the defendants are convicted on multiple counts, they will be sentenced on the most serious charge.
How to watch the trial
The jury selection process and trial will be broadcast on Court TV.
Contributing: Nicquel Terry Ellis, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ahmaud Arbery killing: What to know as trial for 3 Georgia men begins