Ahmaud Arbery's 'killers' pose risk of influencing witnesses and obstructing justice, says judge, denies bail
Chatham County Judge Timothy Walmsley decided Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis, 34, will remain in jail while awaiting trial on charges
According to court documents, a judge said that that the father-son accused in Ahmaud Arbery’s death poses a risk of influencing witnesses and obstructing justice, and as a result, their bail was denied.
According to the order on the McMichaels’ petitions for bond, which News4Jax obtained Thursday, the court found the McMichaels “pose a significant risk of influencing witnesses and obstructing justice”. As a result, following a two-day hearing last month, Chatham County Judge Timothy Walmsley decided Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis, 34, will remain in jail while awaiting trial on charges, including felony murder, in the shooting of 25-year-old Arbery, an African-American man who was running through a South Georgia neighborhood.
On February 23, the day of the deadly shooting, Greg identified as retired law enforcement who was in possession of a gun that was issued to him by the Glynn County Police Department, a body camera showed, the court document stated. Greg also attempted to contact current Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson after the shooting.
“Jackie, this is Greg. Can you call me as soon as you possibly can? We’re, uh, my son and I have been involved in a shooting. And, uh, I need some advice. Please call me as soon as you can,” Greg was heard saying in a voicemail to Johnson that was played by Cobb County Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Jesse Evans during the bond hearing. Incidentally, Johnson was Greg's former employer. He worked as an investigator in her office for more than 20 years before retiring. She was supposed to prosecute the shooting before the case was reassigned to a different district attorney.
The documents go on to say: “Moreover, additional evidence submitted during the hearing showed that Johnson previously intervened on Greg McMichael’s behalf concerning his POST records and a deficiency in training hours for multiple years. Arguably, he was seeking her influence again.” Greg was apparently communicating with a third defendant, neighbor William 'Roddie' Bryan, and “even referred to Bryan as an ally during the ongoing investigation" before his arrest, which occurred more than two months after Arbery was killed, according to the court document.
In addition, the court document says that while in custody, “Greg McMichael may have tried to impede the investigation and influence witnesses” by getting in contact with his wife and having her ask their daughter to delete posts from social media that could have been crucial evidence in the investigation. Court records also show Greg McMichael instructed his wife that “when he answers the phone, tell him flat out not to say anything".
The order also references a separate phone call after the shooting. “Greg McMichael is heard stating to a third party ‘no good deed goes unpunished’ when referencing the shooting and killing of Arbery,” the document stated. There were also other members of his family that he contacted with regard to tampering with potential proof of his alleged crime.
In the order, the judge also writes: “The Court finds the Defendants pose a significant danger to persons, community or property.” The document further pointed at the fact that the McMcMichaels armed themselves and chased Arbery on public streets in broad daylight and that buckshot from the discharge of the shotgun was found lodged in a home near the shooting.