Updates on the Arbery Trial: Vanity Plates and Jailhouse Conversations

Blog #4: Ahmaud Arbery: Updates

Updates on the trial of the men who killed Ahmaud Arbery.

The judge in the Ahmaud Arbery murder case has ruled that recordings made of jailhouse phone calls of the three white men who chased Arbery down and killed him in the street, will not be excluded in the trial.  The defense had argued to exclude the calls.  (Court TV, 10/13/21)

         Depending on what is on the tapes, this could be a blow to the defense.  But, the ruling is no surprise.  There are signs all over the place in jails an prisons warning inmates that their conversations are being recorded.  You would have to be a fool, or someone who thought that you were not subject to the rules or the law, to ignore the warnings and conduct incriminating conversations over the telephone. 

         Anyone who watches trials or court news will remember the revealing conversations between Kasey Anthony and her parents while she was incarcerated.  Anthony did not admit her guilt, but her behavior was enough to raise serious questions about her stability and responsibility.  But, as watchers of court news also know, she was found not guilty.

The Confederate Vanity Plate

         Similarly, defense attorneys are trying to exclude a photograph of Travis McMichael’s truck that shows his confederate flag vanity plate.  While prosecutors have reportedly said that they will not introduce evidence of racial motivation in their case in chief, they have said nothing about introducing such information in their rebuttal case. 

         A defense attorney interviewed by the Atlanta Journal Constitution has argued that the defendants are likely to testify since the task for defense attorneys has to be to make these men human and understandable.  If one of the men claims that he had no racial bias or animus, this opens the door for the prosecution to introduce evidence that demonstrates racism (Atlanta Journal Constitution

The same defense attorney, commenting as an expert, argued that she thought the introduction of the vanity plate as evidence would be highly prejudicial to Travis McMichaels.  I am not so sure.  Growing up in Georgia, I would guess that jurors have seen these confederate symbols all their lives and know people who have displayed them.  I am not sure that the presence of the symbol on McMichael’s truck will be that influential.  I am not arguing that it should not be, just that I am not sure it will be.

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