BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP/WPTV) — More than two months after a black man was shot to death while running through a Georgia neighborhood, the white father and son arrested in the case had their first court appearance on charges of felony murder and aggravated assault.
The investigation into the death of Ahmaud Arbery seemed stalled by local authorities until this week, when a video of the shooting was shared widely on social media.
Gregory and Travis McMichael were booked into the Glynn County Jail and had their first court appearance by video Friday afternoon. The judge spent roughly a minute reading each man his rights and the charges faced.
Both men have been denied bail.
On Friday, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg discussed the precedent it would set if the father and son were acquitted.
“I think the acquittal of George Zimmerman in Florida may have given additional courage to neighborhood vigilantes to start taking the law into their own hands. Remember the George Zimmerman case, he was told not to follow Trayvon Martin by the 911 operator, yet he did and he ended up killing him and he got off Scott free. So, that kind of result could empower others to act the same way,” said Aronberg.
Aronberg said the case is now in the hands of the local district attorney on whether to file charges. If charges are not filed, the men would be released on their own recognizance.
"The video speaks volumes. The video is really important to this case," said Aronberg. "I'm glad an arrest was made."
Aronberg said the case is still under investigation, and it wouldn't surprise him if more individuals are charged at some point.