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Murder accused father and son 'vilified' by public



Memorial: A student watches as artist Theo Ponchaveli paints a mural of Ahmaud Arbery in Dallas. Photo: AP

Memorial: A student watches as artist Theo Ponchaveli paints a mural of Ahmaud Arbery in Dallas. Photo: AP


Memorial: A student watches as artist Theo Ponchaveli paints a mural of Ahmaud Arbery in Dallas. Photo: AP

A defence attorney hired by one of two white men in Georgia accused of pursuing and killing a black man is cautioning against a "rush to judgment" in a case that has drawn international attention and an outcry over its handling.

Gregory and Travis McMichael, a father and son, are charged with aggravated assault and felony murder in the February 23 death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery.

The case drew national attention and outrage after a video of Mr Arbery's final moments surfaced online last week.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) was called in to take over the seemingly stalled investigation and the McMichaels were arrested less than 48 hours later.

Laura and Frank Hogue, a husband and wife criminal defence team based in Macon, Georgia, said they have been hired to represent 64-year-old Gregory McMichael.

"So often the public accepts a narrative driven by an incomplete set of facts, one that vilifies a good person, based on a rush to judgment, which has happened in this case," Ms Hogue said in a statement released yesterday.

The Hogues said more of the truth will be revealed at a preliminary hearing that they plan to schedule soon.

Travis McMichael (34) has hired attorney Bob Rubin from Decatur, an Atlanta suburb.

The more than two months that passed before the McMichaels were arrested and the fact that it didn't happen until after the video of the shooting became public caused many to draw parallels to other shootings of black men by white men in recent years.

"While the death of Ahmaud Arbery is a tragedy, causing deep grief to his family - a tragedy that at first appears to many to fit into a terrible pattern in American life - this case does not fit that pattern. The full story, to be revealed in time, will tell the truth about this case," Frank Hogue said.

According to an incident report by Glynn County police, Gregory McMichael said he and his son armed themselves and chased Mr Arbery in a pickup truck after seeing him run down their street.

Gregory McMichael told police he suspected Mr Arbery was a burglar, and said he attacked Travis McMichael before he was shot in a struggle over the gun.

Separately, lawyers for Mr Arbery's family said the family is interested in talking to an anonymous person who they say left a poignant note at the site of Mr Arbery's death.

"They feel great sympathy for the person who wrote that note and would like to speak with them to determine what they knew or what they saw," the attorneys wrote.

"If that person would like to confidentially come forward and communicate with the family, they can contact the legal team or reach out directly to Mr Arbery's family."

Mr Arbery's mother said she has confidence in the investigation now that the GBI has taken it over from local police and the Cobb County district attorney has been called in as an independent prosecutor to handle it.

She said she would like prosecutors to seek the death penalty.

Irish Independent