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Judge Rules Ahmaud Arbery’s Past Cannot Be Used By Defense During McMichaels’ Trial (Update)

TSR Updatez: Defense attorney representing the three men charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery cannot present evidence of Ahmaud’s past issues with the law at trial, a judge has ruled.

Back in May, we reported the defense attorney for accused killers Gregory and Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan pleaded with the judge presiding over the case to allow testimony about Ahmaud’s criminal history.

Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley’s recent decision is a big victory for prosecutors, who strongly opposed defense attorney efforts to essentially put Ahmaud on trial, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

But of course, the defense isn’t too happy about the judge’s decision.“Why the judge would now decide that all of his prior motives, his intent, his plan to do these things is not relevant in this case is baffling,” said Jason Sheffield, one of Travis McMichael’s lawyers.

“Now they will be denied the truth,” Sheffield said of the jurors in regard to Ahmaud’s intentions of being in that Georgia suburban neighborhood that February day he was chased and gunned down by the men.

Lawyers for the McMichaels maintain their clients were justified in chasing down Ahmaud because they were making a citizen’s arrest. The chase began after Greg McMichael saw Ahmaud running on his street from a house a few doors down that was under construction while Ahmaud’s family says he was just jogging.

In court motions, the McMichaels’ lawyers cited 10 prior “bad acts” committed by Ahmaud from 2013 to the weeks leading up to his slaying. These included Arbery pleading guilty to taking a handgun inside a school gym and, in another case, pleading guilty to shoplifting.

In his ruling this week, Walmsley noted that the McMichaels knew nothing of Ahmaud’s past when they chased him down that day. 

“It is apparent that defendants’ intended use of the victim’s other acts is to engage in speculation as to why Arbery acted as he did,” the judge wrote.

Walmsley added the defense was trying to get “clearly bad character and propensity evidence” before the jury that is unfairly prejudicial. “The character of the victim is neither relevant nor admissible in a murder trial,” the judge wrote.

Evidence about Ahmaud’s past may also mislead the jury, Walmsley said.

While there are expected to be a few more hearings left, the case is slated for trial in October. We’ll keep you posted on any updates.

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