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Lawyers for suspect in Ahmaud Arbery shooting say they have facts that "point to a very different narrative"

DOJ probes handling of Ahmaud Arbery case

Attorneys representing Gregory McMichael, one of the men charged in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, said Friday they have evidence that does not align with the public's understanding of events. 

"Given the daily onslaught over the last several weeks of new information — some credible, some not so credible — you must also know how much work there still is to be done," said Laura Hogue, one of the attorneys representing Gregory McMichael, at a press conference Friday. 

"But significantly, we know several other critically important facts," she said. "Those facts point to a very different narrative than the one that brings you all here today. Those facts will be revealed where all facts that matter are revealed: in a courtroom."

Laura Hogue, and her husband Frank Hogue, have been hired as the criminal defense team for Gregory McMichael. 

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Attorneys for Gregory McMichael, May 15, 2020. screen shot

Video of the shooting in Georgia emerged months after Arbery's late February death, sparking outrage across the country. The footage shows Travis McMichael, 34, and Arbery in an altercation, and Gregory McMichael, Travis' 64-year-old father, nearby, before the younger McMichael shoots Arbery. Gregory and Travis have been charged with Arbery's murder.

The Hogues clarified Friday that their client has been charged as a party to the crime, but that Georgia state law "holds an individual who aids or abets or facilitates a crime with the same responsibility as the individual who actually perpetrated the crime."

Frank Hogue said at the Friday press conference that the shooting was "not some sort of hate crime fueled by racism."

"It is, and remains the case, that a young African-American man has lost his life to violence. That is tragic," he said. 

According to a police incident report after the shooting, Gregory McMichael said he and his son armed themselves and chased Arbery in a pickup truck after seeing him run down their street. Gregory McMichael told police he suspected Arbery was a burglar, and said he attacked Travis McMichael before he was shot in a struggle over the gun.

Frank Hogue said Friday that the case "at first appears to contain some of the same elements that feed into the despicable and violent history of racism in our country."

"What has generated nationwide interest in this case is that it appears to be another in a long line of tragedies we've seen too often… A young African American man dies senselessly by gunfire at the hands of white man, either a police officer or a one acting in the place of a police officer, while that young black man was engaged in nothing more than the innocent act of walking or jogging down an American street while being black," he said. 

Frank Hogue, however, claimed that Arbery's death "is not that story." 

"The full story will not be told until all the witnesses have been found and interviewed, all the documents have been gathered and studied, and all the video has been watched," he said. "And then, if the current District Attorney believes that either or both of the McMichaels committed crimes worthy of prosecution, then we will answer those charges in a court of law in a public trial before a jury of 12 people."

Defense attorneys for both McMichaels said they plan to ask a judge to set bond so they can be released from jail pending trial. Frank Hogue said Friday that he and his wife will present "more information" on behalf of Gregory McMichael at the bond hearing. 

The defense team would not comment on Gregory McMichael's version of events, but alluded to the existence of video that could potentially support his case. 

"There is more than one video of the incident," Laura Hogue said. "There are more than one way that the internet is communicating what happened. There's issues with timing of videos that are on the internet, there's issues with date stamps and time stamps. So, 'the video' may not become the only video that's important in this case."

When asked if they believe they have information that could release Gregory McMichael on bond, Frank Hogue said: "We do."

"Tall order for a judge to set a bond in any murder case, let alone one that's got a lot of attention like this one," he said. "But we always hope going into court that we have a chance if we have a fair judge. And we will have a good presentation to make for bond."

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