At least one juror hearing testimony in the federal hate crimes trial of three men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man in Brunswick, New Jersey, has asked the judge in the case for counseling services. After court on Wednesday, Feb. 16, the juror asked the judge if there was federal money for counseling available.
Arbery’s family members, including his mother Wanda Cooper-Jones were present in the courtroom on Thursday, Feb. 17 as the prosecution continued to introduce evidence of the racist and offensive language allegedly used by the defendants. and saw Arbery’s autopsy photos Thursday.
A jury deciding the federal hate crimes case against the three men sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery heard a slew of shocking and racially offensive remarks discovered in text messages recovered from the phones of two of the defendants.
Travis McMichael, the man convicted of killing the 25-year-old jogger reportedly texted a friend saying he loved his job because “zero n——rs work with me.” Commenting on an online video of a Black man lighting a firecracker stuffed in his nose, he messaged a friend saying: “It’d be cooler if it blew the f—-ing n——r’s head off.” Prosecutors also introduced more compelling evidence of the alleged hate crimes as witnesses testified that Travis McMichaels had expressed extreme hatred for Blacks and urged residents to run them over with their cars.
On Monday morning federal prosecutors told the court and the jury comprised of eight White people, three Black people and one Hispanic person, that at least one of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers has a history of using racial slurs.
During opening statements, Assistant US Attorney Bobbi Bernstein revealed texts Travis McMichael –– who pulled the trigger, killing Arbery –– sent to a friend in which he called Black people, “animals, criminals, monkeys, sub-human savages.”
“Zero [N-words] work with me,” Travis wrote in the message. “They ruined everything. That’s why I love what I do now. Not an [N-word] in sight.”
Text from Travis McMichael’s father could not be introduced into evidence as his phone messages were encrypted. But after the death of civil rights leader Julian Bond in 2015, a witness says Gregory McMichael said, “I wish he’d been put in the ground years ago. He’s nothing but trouble. Those Blacks are nothing but trouble.” McMichael was an investigator with the DA’s office when he made the remarks.
That witness is scheduled to testify at the trial.
Just four days before William “Roddie” Bryan joined his neighbors, Travis and Gregory McMichael in chasing Arbery around a Brunswick neighborhood, prosecutors say he used a racial slur to describe the Black man his daughter was dating at the time.
“She’s dating a [N-word] now,” Bryan wrote in a text, prosecutors said, noting that Bryan repeatedly called the Black man the N-word in the messages and also described him as a monkey.
The revelation came to light as one of several examples of Bryan’s use of racial slurs before the February 23, 2020 murder of the 25-year-old who had been out jogging.
Bryan, along with the McMichaels was convicted on state murder charges and sentenced to life in prison. Now, in a federal hate crime trial, prosecutors are arguing the three men targeted Ahmaud because of his race.
“It’s not illegal to use racial slurs,” Bernstein told jurors. “But these slurs can provide you with evidence as to why a defendant did what he did.”
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