KEY POINTS

  • Suspects Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan appeared in court Thursday for a preliminary hearing for the death of Ahmaud Arbery
  • The special prosecutor said evidence showed Arbery was boxed in by two pickup trucks before he was shot three times, and Travis McMichael allegedly called Arbery a racial slur
  • Protests are expected outside Glynn County courthouse, demanding justice for Arbery

Slain Georgia jogger Ahmaud Arbery was “chased, hunted down and ultimately executed,”  special prosecutor Jesse Evans said at a preliminary hearing Thursday. Three men -- Gregory McMichael, 64, Travis McMichael, 34, and William Bryan, 50 -- are charged in Arbery's Feb. 23 shooting death in Brunswick.

Evans revealed previously undisclosed details about the chase that indicate Bryan may have played a bigger role than he has claimed. Evans said investigators found a handprint, cotton fibers, and a dent on Bryan’s truck attributed to “contact with Arbery.” He said Arbery was "chased, hunted down and ultimately executed."

Rick Dial, an investigator for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, testified Arbery was trapped between two trucks after hitting Bryan’s and Bryan allegedly asked “do you got him?” Arbery was running toward the McMichaels’ truck when Travis McMichael aimed his shotgun at Arbery. Arbery then shifted to the passenger side of the truck to try and escape, but was met by Travis McMichael again.

The two engaged in a short struggle before Travis McMichael shot Arbery in the chest. He fired two more times, hitting Arbery in the armpit and wrist.

Dial then said Bryan alleged Travis McMichael cursed and called Arbery a racial slur before police arrived.

Dial’s testimony contradicts Bryan’s initial recounting of the altercation. He previously said he wasn’t directly involved and only followed after seeing Arbery run by with the McMichaels chasing after him.

Jason Sheffield, the attorney for Travis McMichael, has maintained the father and son were only acting because of a series of alleged break-ins. They suspected Arbery was to be one of the people responsible and were simply trying to conduct a citizen’s arrest when Arbery resisted. Sheffield also pointed to Arbery’s mental health, pointing to auditory hallucinations from which Arbery suffered and said he had stopped taking his medication.

Protests demanding justice for Arbery were expected outside the Glynn County courthouse around 6 p.m. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has warned “bad actors” trying to incite violence will not be tolerated.

“Let me be clear once again: We will not tolerate disruptive or dangerous behavior, including criminal conduct, and we will put the safety of our citizens first,” Kemp said.

Courtroom This photo shows a view of the defendant's table in a courtroom closed due to budget cuts and layoffs, at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles, March 16, 2009. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images