Gregory and Travis McMichael,the men who brutally murdered 25 year old Ahmaud Arbery; in February 2020, are attempting to use Citizen’s arrest, a slavery-era law that has since been repealed; to defend themselves against murder charges and federal hate crimes; that could get them life in prison according to Reuters.
On 23rd of February 2020 the McMichaels contend that they were attempting to make a citizen’s arrest of Arbery; because they believed he had committed a felony. At that time, Georgia had a law on the book that dates back to 1863. During the era of slavery.
According to the McMichaels’ lawyer; “Citizen’s arrest is a big part of our case, a big part,” Kevin Gough, a lawyer for Bryan, said in an interview earlier this month before the judge presiding over the murder trial in Glynn County Superior Court issued a partial gag order. “They changed the law, but changing the law doesn’t affect us. It doesn’t change what was the law of the land at the time.”
According to Reuters, the defense will utilize a 1863 Georgia citizen’s arrest law, which was originally meant for slave owners to capture enslaved people who ran away. The defense will reportedly claim they were able to stop Arbery and issue a citizen’s arrest because they believed he was committing a crime.
The law wasn’t repealed until May of 2021.
Immediately following the shooting, the McMichaels and Bryan remained free and were not charged until the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case. In May 2020, all three were charged with murder and will face trial beginning Feb. 7, 2022.