A Georgia judge set a trial date for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, whose lynching at the hands of three vigilantes sparked a significant leap forward in the Black Lives Matter movement. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution broke the news on Friday.
Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley will oversee the trial, slated to begin on October 18 after lawyers select a jury. The trial date announcement coincides with what would have been Arbery’s 27th birthday.
Critics anticipated an announcement for months after trial date selection was delayed due to COVID-19.
The defendants, Travis McMichael, who shot Arbery; his father, Greg McMichael, a former investigator for the local district attorney’s office; and William “Roddie” Bryan, are accused of trailing Arbery while he jogged around a Brunswick, Georgia neighborhood on Feb. 23, 2020. Cell phone video captured by Bryan shows Arbery as he attempts to run from the McMichaels prior to him being shot at close range.
Attorneys for the trio have continually insist that they committed no crimes. They continued to falsely contend that Arbery was part of a series of break-ins in the neighborhood that occurred prior to his death after the case made national headlines.
It took local law enforcement several weeks to bring forth charges. Many believe that because Greg McMichael had a close relationship with local law enforcement, it helped delay his subsequent arrest.
The three have been denied bond since their arrests and face state charges of malice murder and felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
Last week the trio was indicted by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Georgia and charged with hate crimes and the attempted kidnapping of Arbery, according to a release from the Justice Department.
The men are scheduled to appear in court next week, followed by two days of pretrial hearings.