Three white men are being tried for murder by the jury Ahmaud Arbery last year in Georgia heard testimony Thursday from a property owner who said he did not authorize Gregory and Travis McMichael to watch over his construction site, nor was he particularly concerned about theft ― undercutting two of the justifications the defendants have offered for pursuing Arbery and confronting him.

Prosecutors played also security footage taken from Brunswick, Georgia property. This showed people walking through the area, which was where the house was being built in the months prior to the shooting.

This site was questioned because Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and Travis McMichael, one of three defendants in the murder case, called 911 several times about robberies occurring in the area, most notably one regarding the location on February 23, 2020. That is the date Arbery was murdered.

The McMichaels and William “Roddie” Bryan, the man who filmed the shooting, all face charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, kidnapping and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment, as well as federal hate crime charges. Arbery (who was Black) was 25.

Property owner Larry English said in prerecorded testimony that he’d installed cameras after a neighbor told him that “some boys from across the street” were playing in and around the construction site. In his testimony, English said he was more concerned about the boys’ safety than he was about anyone stealing something from the home. He described the construction site as “very dangerous.”

English said repeatedly that the cameras were “about the kids” and their safety, not because of concerns about trespassing or theft. English said that he didn’t mind people wandering in and out the construction site.

English made a 911 call to report an unauthorized person at the scene. The prosecution played it. On the tape, he describes the person as a “colored guy.” He mentions there are a lot of tools and equipment at the site.

Paul Camarillo, the Prosecutor of Camarillo, asked English to translate what he hoped that emergency services and law enforcement would say.

“I wanted, just hopefully, they would find him and talk to him and tell him not to be there anymore,” English said.

English gave permission for police to visit his property in another 911 call that was played by the jury. But English testified that there was only one person, besides law enforcement, whom he gave permission to check out the site: a man who lived nearby who is not any of the defendants charged in Arbery’s killing.

“At any point, did you authorize the McMichaels to confront anyone on your site?” Camarillo asked English.

“No,” English replied.

Camarillo also heard English tell Camarillo that McMichaels never had permission to visit his property.

Prosecutors presented security footage showing a white man walking about the property with a woman and another white person. A video of Arbery walking about the property was also shown. The video does not show anything being taken from the property.

The jury then saw surveillance footage that was taken on the day Arbery died. English explained that video footage showed that items from the past days still existed at the scene.

“At this point, to your knowledge, had anything ever been taken or disturbed?” Camarillo asked.

“Nope,” English replied.

Aside from English’s deposition, controversy was ignited when defense attorney Kevin Gough criticized the presence of Black pastors at the trial.

The Rev. Al Sharpton joined the Arbery family in the courtroom. Gough said Sharpton and other Black pastors’ presence in the courtroom would intimidate the jury.

Sharpton, accompanied by civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, held a prayer vigil at the trial’s lunch recess that day.

“Obviously, there is so many pastors they can have. Al Sharpton is their pastor, which is okay. But we don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here ― Jesse Jackson, whoever was in here, sitting with the victim’s family trying to influence the jury in this case,” Gough said.

Judge Timothy Walmsley shot down Gough’s complaint. He stated that he would not prevent the public from coming into the courtroom.

“If individuals, based on the limitations we have in the courtroom, end up sitting in the courtroom and they can do so respectful of the court’s process and in compliance with this court’s orders with regard to the conduct of the trial, and they are not a distraction, I am not going to do anything about it,” Walmsley said.

Sharpton replied with a statement Thursday, saying his presence was “not disruptive” and it was at the invitation of the family of Arbery. Sharpton called Gough “arrogant” in his demand that he and other Black pastors not be allowed to attend the trial.

Arbery’s killing sparked national outrage and protests last year. Friday, the trial will continue in Glynn, Georgia. At 9 AM, witnesses are expected to be called by the prosecution.


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