(CNN) — Lawyers for two men charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick asserted Thursday that the public has rushed to judgment, and that the full story has yet to be revealed.
Travis McMichael, 34, and his father, Gregory McMichael, 64, are charged with felony murder and aggravated assault in the February 23 death of Arbery, a black man who was shot dead while jogging just outside Brunswick.
But Robert Rubin and Jason Sheffield, attorneys for the younger McMichael, “conducted an extensive initial investigation and believe there is compelling evidence that Mr. McMichael is not guilty of the charges against him,” a statement from their law firm reads.
“Travis has been vilified before his voice could even be heard. … The truth in this case will exonerate Travis,” the statement reads.
At a news conference at the firm’s office in Decatur, Rubin said Arbery’s death was a tragedy, though that doesn’t mean that a crime was committed.
“Our hearts go out to the Arbery family, because, although, we don’t stand in their shoes, we understand their pain,” he said.
Gregory McMichael’s attorneys said the public has not heard the whole story, and “more of the truth will come out.”
“So often the public accepts a narrative driven by an incomplete set of facts, one that vilifies a good person, based on a rush to judgement, which has happened in this case,” Laura Hogue, one of the attorneys for the elder McMichael, said in her law firm’s statement.
“While the death of Ahmaud Arbery is a tragedy, causing deep grief to his family — a tragedy that at first appears to many to fit into a terrible pattern in American life — this case does not fit that pattern,” attorney Frank Hogue said. “The full story, to be revealed in in time, will tell the truth about this case.”
The Hogues will hold a news conference Friday.
The father and son were arrested May 7 in connection with Arbery’s killing, days after a cell phone video of the confrontation emerged. Gregory McMichael told police, according to the incident report, that Arbery attacked his son and was shot as they fought over the shotgun.
Attorneys for Arbery’s family said Travis McMichael’s lawyers were correct in saying no one should rush to judgment.
“The men who ambushed Ahmaud Arbery rushed to judgment on February 23,” the statement from S. Lee Merritt, Benjamin Crump and L. Chris Stewart reads. They also say Travis McMichael should be presumed innocent in the legal system.
“We only wish that (he) had provided that same presumption of innocence to Ahmaud Arbery before chasing and killing him,” the statement reads.
The McMichaels are being held in jail; a judge said last week that bail will be set later. Sheffield said he intends to ask a judge to release Travis McMichael on bail.
Gregory McMichael’s defense team said they will ask for bail and they think “more of the truth will come out” at a preliminary hearing.
Neither hearing has been scheduled.
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