(CBS) — The three White men charged with the killing of a Black jogger in Georgia pleaded not guilty Friday. Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was killed on Feb. 23 just outside of Brunswick, Georgia, after he was chased by the men while he was jogging.
Arbery’s killing, captured on a disturbing video, drew a national outcry. Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis, 34, told police they chased Arbery because they thought he was a burglary suspect and acted in self-defense during a confrontation.
Two and a half months passed before they were charged with murder and aggravated assault, shortly after the state began investigating and a video of the shooting became public. Authorities say the third man charged in the case, 50-year-old William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., boxed Arbery in with his truck.
It was Bryan who filmed Arbery’s death on his cellphone. An investigator later testified that Bryan said he heard Travis McMichael using a racial slur as Arbery lay dying.
Judge Timothy Walmsley accepted the not guilty pleas and waived arraignment at the request the defense lawyers. No court date was immediately set.
Last month, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed into law a landmark hates crime bill that gained momentum after Arbery’s death. However, a local prosecutor said that hate crime penalty enhancements are not an option in the case because the new law cannot be applied retroactively.