Former Georgia county prosecutor and Fox Nation host Nancy Grace said that the legal defense apparently being claimed by two defendants in the deadly shooting of Ahmaud Arbery should never hold up in court.
On Friday, Travis McMichael, 34, and father, Gregory McMichael, 64, appeared in court and were denied bail, after being charged with murder and aggravated assault charges.
Police say the father and son, both of whom are white, shot and killed Arbery, who is black, while the 25-year-old was jogging through their residential neighborhood in Brunswick, Ga., on Feb. 23.
Prior to the shooting, Gregory McMichael reportedly saw Arbery and called 911, claiming that he may be the person involved in recent burglaries in the area.
Gregory McMichael and his son armed themselves and tracked Arbery down on the road, investigators said. Travis McMichael shot Arbery during the encounter, killing him.
“It is just so hard for me to take in this series of events and then to claim citizen’s arrest. That is what — we understand — [the defendants] are claiming,” said Grace in the latest episode of Fox Nation’s “Crime Stories with Nancy Grace.”
“It is just asinine,” agreed civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Arbery’s father. “I know we’ve covered many cases and this is one of the most shocking ones.”
At least one local district attorney, who has since recused himself, argued against filing charges in a letter he sent to law enforcement prior to removing himself from the case.
“It appears their intent was to stop and hold this criminal suspect until law enforcement arrived. Under Georgia law, this is perfectly legal,” Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill wrote in an April 2 letter.
Grace said that is an incorrect reading of the law.
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“That is not the citizen’s arrest statute in the state of Georgia,” said Grace, “This will never stand up in a court of law.”
“It is wrong on a couple of different levels. Number one, the citizen’s arrest statute in Georgia says that in order to make a citizen’s arrest, a private citizen must have a warrant.”
“However, there are exceptions for that — one is if the private citizen witnesses a violation of state law that is committed … in their immediate presence. Based on everything that I’ve seen on the report, they can’t even get past the first hurdle, which is they didn’t see this young man commit any type of offense.”
In his April 2 letter, Barnhill also raised the question over whether Travis McMichael may have killed Arbery in self-defense.
Again, Grace dismissed that legal theory.
“Even if what they said is true — that he looked like somebody that they thought was a burglar,” argued Grace, “that still does not justify deadly force.”
“Because when someone is running from you and you go after them, there’s no claim of self-defense. Even cops are not entitled now to shoot a fleeing felon unless they’re presuming a danger.”
To watch all of this episode of “Crime Stories with Nancy Grace,” and hear more of Grace’s legal reasoning and more from the civil rights attorney representing Ahmaud Arbery’s father, go to Fox Nation.
Fox News Brie Stimson contributed to this report.
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