BRUNSWICK (Ga.) -- Two women who knew Ahmaud's father and son testified Friday at the federal hate crime trial that they heard the men make racist remarks, including crude sexual comments directed at one of the Black women they dated.
After spotting a 25-year-old Black man running through their coastal Georgia neighborhood, Travis McMichael and Greg McMichael decided to arm themselves and chase Arbery in a pickup truck. William "Roddie", a neighbor, captured cellphone video of Travis McMichael firing a shotgun at Arbery.
Three men were convicted last fall of murder in a Georgia state Court. The men are now being tried in a separate case at U.S. District Court. They were charged with violating Arbery’s civil rights and targeting Arbery because he is Black. Bryan and McMichaels have pleaded guilty.
Travis McMichael was a Coast Guard officer who testified that he made crude jokes about his sexual activity with African American men. Kristie Ronquille, a woman who had served under him in the Coast Guard, said that he called her an "N-word lover" and that she found his remarks "infuriatingly disrespectful."
Ronquille claimed that she never reported Travis McMichael’s comments, which he made while on duty at a Coast Guard station near Pascagoula in Mississippi, partly because he was a supervisor.
Amy Lee Copeland (the attorney for Travis McMichael) noted that Ronquille previously stated to the FBI that she was "90% certain" that he called her a name that included a racial slur. Copeland also pointed out that Ronquille had told the FBI she hated Travis McMichael.
Kim Ballesteros, another witness on Friday, testified that Greg McMichael mocked a Black woman to whom he rented a house. Ballesteros and her husband lived in the same street as McMichaels about three years ago. They were discussing their experiences as landlords.
Ballesteros claimed that Greg Michael said to her that his ex-Black tenant was called "the Walrus" by him because of her skin color, and her large size. He claimed that he had once turned off her home air conditioner when she was late on rent payments.
Ballesteros stated, "I was shocked." "It was inhumane and racist, and I was honestly disappointed."
A.J. McMichael, Greg McMichael’s attorney. Balbo noted that Ballesteros spoke to Greg McMichael again after the incident, and that her testimony proved that he was willing to rent property out to Black people.
The evidence that Bryan and McMichaels held racist views of Black people is crucial to the prosecution's case that Arbery’s death was a hate crime. These posts included descriptions of violence against Black people.
Greg McMichael shared a Facebook meme that stated "Irish slaves in America were treated more poorly than any other group in America's history." Bryan used slurs in a variety of electronic messages. One was sent on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and mocked the civil rights leader.
Defense lawyers denounced the racist messages of their clients as indefensible and offense. They also claimed that Arbery's death was motivated by an honest, but erroneous suspicion that he had committed crimes rather than his race.