× Ahmaud Arbery trial: Travis McMichael admits Arbery made no threats before McMichael raised his gun
A prosecutor alleges the man who killed a judge in a courtroom attack may have been overheard on another phone call, saying, “If you give this case the attention it deserves, you will be sacrificed.”
Travis McMichael denied on the stand Saturday his court escort, Ahmaud Arbery, had threatened to “spank” a judge, raising his middle finger when McMichael asked if he was offended by being called rude.
On the stand, McMichael told jurors he was just telling Arbery to be quiet.
McMichael, an ex-Marine who served in Afghanistan, is accused of killing Judge Fred Biery in November. He was angered because Arbery was presiding over an assault against McMichael.
Courtroom video showed Arbery forcefully bringing McMichael, 33, to the ground in an attack witnesses say lasted about 15 seconds. Arbery shot him, but he survived.
McMichael is on trial for the murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Biery’s death.
The chaotic, bloody courtroom attack occurred the day of Arbery’s first appearance hearing.
Defense attorney Jim Leflore points to the defense that McMichael never intended to kill Arbery.
“It was clear from the audio recording that he is shaking him off and stepping off. He had the upper hand in the courthouse,” Leflore said.
“Does that behavior make any sense to you, Mr. McMichael?”
The defense moved to suppress evidence and testimony related to the “abuse” referenced in the prosecution’s opening statements because McMichael didn’t know it was going to be played.
Prosecutors had said Arbery launched a “judge-slapping” fit as McMichael was escorted through the courtroom hallway and asked him to keep quiet.
McMichael alleges his court escort was threatening to spank him.
McMichael said he was “terrified” and made noises because he was so afraid of Arbery.
“Did you ask him to stop yelling?” Leflore asked.
“No, sir,” McMichael said.
Aurora Judge Michelle Solis opened the week of testimony by telling jurors the courtroom assault didn’t warrant the death penalty.
The prosecutor, Sal LoPresti, later questioned witnesses about the video evidence and McMichael’s alleged threat.
“Is it true that (McMichael) began that tirade by saying ‘give this case the attention it deserves, you will be sacrificed?’” LoPresti asked.
“Yes,” some of the witnesses responded.
However, one man said there was no evidence of anyone in court making a threat about spanking.
“Is that because there was no voice raised at the time?” LoPresti asked.
“Well there was no face raising raised either,” the witness responded.
“So if you hadn’t stepped in you wouldn’t have heard him say ‘give this case the attention it deserves. You will be sacrificed?’” LoPresti asked.
The defense has admitted McMichael did say he was going to shoot Arbery, but will argue he didn’t know the motion was going to be played to jurors.
The defense is expected to file a motion Tuesday claiming LoPresti intentionally made a statement that could bolster McMichael’s claim that he didn’t intend to kill Arbery.
Also Monday, defense attorneys have claimed a number of issues with the evidence and evidence collectors in the trial.