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Judge to review Arbery's mental health records to determine if they can be used in trial

Georgia Chase-Deadly Shooting
Posted at 9:27 AM, May 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-14 09:28:02-04

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia judge says he will review under seal mental health records of Ahmaud Arbery to decide whether they can be used at trial by defense attorneys for the men charged with his killing.

Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley made the decision during a pretrial hearing Thursday.

Defense lawyers say Arbery had been diagnosed with a mental illness and a jury should be able to consider that when deciding whether the 25-year-old Black man was murdered or killed in self-defense.

Travis McMichael, who fired the shotgun, is charged in the case along with his father, Greg McMichael, and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan. All three men are being charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit a felony.

Prosecutors say Arbery’s mental health isn't relevant to the case.

At this week's hearing, attorneys for the defendants also argued that jurors should be allowed to know of Arbery's past arrests for bringing a gun onto a school campus and shoplifting. A prosecutor argued Arbery's past is also irrelevant.

Along with the charges filed by the state against the defendants, the Department of Justice has also filed federal charges against the men, including hate crime charges. The suspects pleaded not guilty to those Tuesday.

The killing of Arbery was one of a handful of fatal shootings that a sparked national outcry and led to protests around the country last year, demanding racial justice.