A white man, accused of shooting Ahmaud Arbery dead, shouted a racial slur as the unarmed black man lay dying in the street, a court has heard.
William “Roddie” Bryan, who filmed the killing of Mr Arbery, claimed he heard defendant Travis McMichael use the term as he stood over the jogger before police arrived on the scene, according to Georgia bureau of investigation agent, Richard Dial.
McMichael, 34, and his father Gregory, 64, a former police officer, armed themselves and gave chase when they spotted the 25-year-old running near where they live just outside the port city of Brunswick, it is alleged.
Bryan, 50, who is also charged with murder, said he spotted them driving by and joined the chase, Mr Dial said.
The three suspects used their trucks to chase down and box in Mr Arbery, who changed directions and even jumped into a ditch to escape while out running on 23 February, it is alleged.
Special prosecutor Jesse Evans told the hearing to determine if the case can go to trial, the victim “was chased, hunted down and ultimately executed”.
After Mr Arbery was forced to stop, Travis McMichael got out of his truck and, carrying a pump-action shotgun, confronted him, it is claimed.
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As the pair struggled, he allegedly shot the runner three times, twice in the chest and once in the hand.
He told police he fired in self-defence after Mr Arbery refused his order to get on the ground, agent Dial said.
But the investigator said the evidence pointed to murder, rather than the trio’s claim they were legitimately carrying out a citizens’ arrest of a suspected burglar.
Gregory McMichael told police that “he didn’t know if Mr Arbery had stolen anything or not, but he had a gut feeling” that Arbery was behind break-ins in the area, Mr Dial said.
Mr Dial also claimed a Confederate symbol had been found in Travis McMichael’s truck and several more racial slurs in messages on his phone.
The suspects were charged with murder more than two months after Mr Arbery was killed, after the emergence of Bryan’s video of the killing led state investigators to take over the case.
A judge has ruled the cases against all three defendants charged with murder can advance to the trial court.
The hearing followed a week of angry protests in the US over law enforcement biases against black victims following the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.