Judge rules jurors in trial for Ahmaud Arbery's killing can see license plate with Confederate emblem

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Opening arguments began Friday after nearly three weeks of jury selection in a case that went 74 days without charges.
BRUNSWICK, Ga. — A judge has rejected defense lawyers' request to keep jurors who are weighing murder charges in Ahmaud Arbery's killing from seeing a picture of one suspect's license plate that features an old Georgia flag with the Confederate battle emblem.

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Attorneys for Greg McMichael and his son Travis McMichael — two White men who chased Arbery, a Black man, last year in a pickup truck bearing the vanity plate, before the younger McMichael shot him — had argued that the plate was "not relevant" and "prejudicial." In court Thursday, they said it would amount to an improper comment on Travis McMichael's character.

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski countered that racial animus is evidence of motive, telling the judge that the state does not currently plan to introduce evidence of such animus but adding, "if Travis McMichael opens the motive door the state's going to walk through it."

Opening arguments began Friday after nearly three weeks of jury selection in a case that originally went 74 days without charges. A viral video of Arbery's killing in Satilla Shores, a suburban community in south Georgia, in February 2020 sparked national attention and became a visceral example for many of the justice system's unfairness to Black people, amid a wave of protests over police violence and racism.

"We are here because of assumptions and driveway decisions," Dunikoski began her statements Friday morning. "A very wise person once said, don't assume the worst of another person's intentions until you actually know what's going on with them … but in this case, all three of these defendants did everything they did based on assumptions — not on facts, not on evidence."

Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and their neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan have pleaded not guilty to charges including murder, aggravated assault and false imprisonment. Their lawyers will argue they had valid grounds to carry out a "citizen's arrest" after suspecting Arbery of neighborhood…
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