Notably, Mr. English said he never directly shared with the three defendants his concerns that Mr. Arbery had been on his property. In fact, he said he barely knew two of the defendants, Travis McMichael, the man who shot Mr. Arbery, and his father, Gregory McMichael, whom he said he had met only briefly. He said he had never met the third defendant, William Bryan.
Linda Dunikoski, the lead prosecutor in the case, may use such details to buttress her argument, laid out in her opening statement last Friday, that the three defendants rushed into action based on flawed “assumptions and driveway decisions,” but without “immediate knowledge” that a crime had occurred.
Ms. Dunikoski’s language echoes that found in what was Georgia citizen’s arrest law at the time, which stated that a private person could arrest someone if an offense was committed in their presence, or within their “immediate knowledge.”
However, in opening statements for the defense, Robert Rubin, a lawyer for Travis McMichael, brought attention to another aspect of the law, which stated that if someone believed that another person had committed a felony — and if that person was escaping or trying to escape — it was legal to try to arrest the fleeing person if the pursuer harbored “reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion.”
Mr. Rubin contends that Mr. English allowed suspicion to spread in the neighborhood by sharing the videos of Mr. Arbery’s unauthorized entries with Mr. Perez and the police, and by letting it be known that some property had been stolen from his boat.
“We’re not contending there was a crime committed in their presence,” Mr. Rubin said of the defendants. “But there was probable cause to believe a felony had been committed” by Mr. Arbery, he said, “and that this man was attempting to escape or flee.”
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