The three men accused in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, one of a series of recent killings of black Americans that has propelled protests nationwide, were scheduled to appear in court Thursday morning, according to the Glynn County Magistrate Court.
Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, was shot three times Feb. 23 after a white father and son – Gregory, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, – chased him down while he was jogging through Satilla Shores, a neighborhood two miles from his home in Brunswick.
A third white man, William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., 50, captured the killing on video.
The three men were arrested in May – more than two months after the killing – following a storm of public outcry after video of the incident was made public.
The McMichaels were arrested in early May on murder and aggravated assault charges. Bryan was arrested weeks later on felony murder charges and with criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
Gregory McMichael, a retired police officer, told police that he and his son believed Arbery matched the description of a burglary suspect. They grabbed their guns when they saw him running in the neighborhood and told police they weren’t sure whether Arbery was armed.
Glynn County police told USA TODAY that they had no records of home break-ins or burglaries between Jan. 1 and Feb. 23 in that neighborhood. Local media reported one car burglary.
Surveillance video shows Arbery stopping at a house under construction before the McMichaels pursued him. However, the owner of the property said nothing was taken and video shows several people had entered the construction site over the course of several months.
A memo from a previous district attorney investigating the case says that Gregory McMichael told police that Bryan was involved in following Arbery before the events on the video unfold. According to an arrest warrant, Bryan “did attempt to confine and detain Ahmaud Arbery without legal authority.”
Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes was appointed to lead the prosecution last month. Holmes replaces District Attorney Tom Durden as lead prosecutor, who took over after Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson and Ware County District Attorney George Barnhill recused themselves from the case because of their connections to Gregory McMichael, a former investigator with Johnson’s office.
Federal officials were also weighing the possibility of federal hate crime charges, a spokesperson with the U.S. Department of Justice said last month. Georgia is one of a handful of states in the U.S. that doesn’t have a hate crime prevention law.
The Thursday hearing was scheduled for 9:30 a.m. ET.
The hearing was not a bond hearing, and a bond hearing had not been scheduled, the court said. But Kevin Gough, the lawyer representing Bryan, told USA TODAY that “bond may be addressed after the preliminary hearing.”
Attorneys representing Arbery’s family said in a news conference Tuesday that the hearing was expected to be a bond hearing.
“It is troubling that the community, the legal apparatus of South Georgia, has made another exception for the defendants, granting a bond hearing,” attorney Lee Merritt said. “We are, of course, opposed to that hearing.”
Merritt said Tuesday that Arbery’s parents, Marcus Arbery and Wanda Cooper, planned to be present at Thursday’s hearing.
Merritt and attorney Ben Crump are also representing the families of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
Attorneys Frank and Laura Hogue, who are representing Gregory McMichael, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Attorneys Robert Rubin and Jason Sheffield, who are representing Travis McMichael, also did not respond.