SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) – Security camera footage taken in December outside a home being built in coastal Georgia raises new questions about what Ahmaud Arbery was doing at the site two months later right before he was fatally shot in the neighborhood.
A white father and son remain jailed on charges of felony murder in the 25-year-old black man’s death. Gregory and Travis McMichael armed themselves and pursued Arbery in a pickup truck after spotting him running in their subdivision Feb. 23. Just before the shooting, a security camera recorded Arbery inside the open frame of a home under construction on the McMichaels’ street.
Gregory McMichael, 64, told police he suspected Arbery was a burglar responsible for recent break-ins in the neighborhood just outside the port city of Brunswick and said Arbery attacked his son before he was shot. Arbery’s mother has said she believes her son was merely out jogging.
On Friday, an attorney for the owner of the house under construction released a short video taken by a security camera on Dec. 17. It shows a black man in a T-shirt and shorts leaving the site with his back to the camera. He walks a few steps toward the road, then starts running at a jogger’s pace.
â€œIt now appears that this young man may have been coming onto the property for water,â€ J. Elizabeth Graddy, the attorney for homeowner Larry English, said in a statement. â€œThere is a water source at the dock behind the house as well as a source near the front of the structure.â€
It is not known if the person in the Dec. 17 video is Arbery.
Defense lawyers for Gregory McMichael said Friday that they have examined evidence that â€œtells a very different storyâ€ about Arbery and the two men charged with killing him. Attorney Laura Hogue told reporters: â€œThere is more than one video of the incident.â€
She did not give any specifics. A roughly 40-second cellphone video of the shooting was leaked online last week, a day before the McMichaels were charged the felony murder and aggravated assault. The video fueled a national outcry not just over the killing but also that more than two months passed before arrests were made.
Attorney Franklin Hogue, hired to defend Gregory McMichael along with his law partner wife, said more details would be revealed at a preliminary court hearing that he plans to request soon.
â€œThe truth will reveal this is not just another act of violent racism,â€ Franklin Hogue told a news conference outside the couple’s Macon office. â€œGreg McMichael did not commit murder. Greg McMichael is not a party to the crime of murder.â€
Attorneys for Arbery’s parents have said security camera video from the same home construction site Feb. 23 shows Arbery on the property right before the shooting. They also say the footage shows Arbery committing no crimes.
English has said nothing was ever stolen from his property, though his security cameras recorded someone coming onto the property several times in recent months.
Travis McMichael, 34, called 911 to report a possible trespasser on English’s property the night of Feb. 11, less than two weeks before Arbery was shot. He described a “black male, red shirt and white shorts.â€
â€œWhen I turned around and saw him and backed up, he reached into his pocket and ran into the house,” Travis McMichael told the 911 operator. “So I donâ€™t know if heâ€™s armed or not. But he looked like, he was acting like he was. So be mindful of that.â€
Defense attorneys for both McMichaels have cautioned against a rush to judgment in the case. The father and son have separate legal teams. Asked if they are working together, both sets of lawyers said they respect the other attorneys, are in contact and will see where the individual cases go.
The men weren’t arrested until May 7, more than two months after the shooting, after an outside prosecutor assigned to the case asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to get involved. The day before the arrests, cellphone video of the shooting leaked online.
AP reporter Kate Brumback contributed from Atlanta.