At the bond hearing on Thursday for the father and son who were filmed killing Ahmaud Arbery, the judge was presented with racist texts and social media messages from the two men. Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was unarmed, was pursued and fatally shot by Travis and Gregory McMichael on Feb. 23, while William Bryan followed and filmed Arbery's death.
On Thursday, Chatham County Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley heard testimony from people familiar with the McMichaels, while prosecutors presented evidence of previous instances of racism the two had engaged in.
Among the testimonies from friends of the McMichael family were one from Zachary Langford, who said Travis had "at least" one Black friend when they attended school together. The Associated Press reports that Langford was also asked about a text message he received from Travis last year, in which he made reference to "shooting a crackhead c**n with gold teeth and a Hi Point .45." Langford, however, claimed that Travis' usage of the word "c**n" in the text was a reference to raccoons, and not a slur.
Further testimony from Langford revealed Travis wrote a Facebook past last year in which he said, "Ha ha ha ha! Sayonara you slant eyed f**ks." The defense dismissed the messages as "inappropriate jokes."
Both Travis and Gregory have maintained since their arrest in May that they believed Arbery, who was on a jog when they killed him, resembled a burglar who had previously been reported in the area. Prosecutors have argued that the evidence showing the McMichaels being racist before the shooting reinforces the murder charges they're both facing. It has also been alleged by Bryan that Travis said "fucking n****r" to Arbery as he laid on the ground dying, providing evidence that could help legally prove racism played a part in the killing.
The McMichaels have each been charged with malice murder, felony murder, and aggravated assault, while William Bryan has been charged with felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. All three have pleaded not guilty, and their defense attorneys have argued that the malice murder charge should be rejected.
KBTX-TV 3 reports that Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, has insisted that the McMichaels should remain behind bars because they're "dangerous." She continued, "I live right there in the community. Nobody reached out to say, 'I'm sorry for your loss.' I don't think they are remorseful at all."