Homeowner says no crime was committed at under-construction home Ahmaud Arbery may have visited before shooting

CNN's Don Lemon speaks with Ahmaud Arbery's best friend and former teammate, Akeem Baker, about his friendship with the 25-year-old before he was fatally shot while jogging in Georgia.

Posted: May 13, 2020 7:10 AM
Updated: May 13, 2020 7:10 AM

The owner of a home under construction in the Georgia neighborhood where Ahmaud Arbery was killed says he had reported no crime after surveillance video seemed to show the young man on the property.

The February 23 footage, captured moments before Arbery's death, appears to show him looking around but never touching anything -- and eventually, walking away.

"I don't want it to be put out and misused and misinterpreted for people to think that I had accused Mr. Arbery of stealing or robbery, because I never did," Larry English, the homeowner told CNN's Chris Cuomo Tuesday night.

"By the time Larry saw the video, Mr. Arbery had been killed," English's attorney, Elizabeth Graddy, said.

Arbery, 25, was jogging in the Satilla Shores neighborhood outside Brunswick nearly three months ago when he was fatally shot.

Greg McMichael, 64, and his 34-year-old son, Travis, 34, were arrested Thursday and are facing charges of felony murder and aggravated assault, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Greg McMichael told police after the killing that there had been "several break-ins" in the area and that Arbery looked like a suspect caught on surveillance video.

But no string of break-ins was reported in more than seven weeks prior to Arbery's death and there was only a burglary report after a gun was stolen from an unlocked vehicle in front of the McMichaels' home, police said.

A second video propelled the case

It was another video that helped to turn the case into national news two months after Arbery's death and drove thousands to the streets to protest the handling of the case.

The 36-second video seems to show the killing and was captured by William "Roddie" Bryan.

Bryan's attorney, Kevin Gough, said he was just a bystander with no relationship to the McMichaels. Gough disputed Greg McMichael's claim to police that Bryan was helping them attempt to head off Arbery.

When asked why Bryan didn't call 911 after the shooting, Gough didn't have an immediate response other than to note that police "sirens were audible almost immediately." He said it was clear to everyone involved that police were en route.

A man of 'principles, loyalty, respect and love'

Arbery was a "man of principles, loyalty, respect and love," his best friend told CNN Tuesday.

"Ahmaud was the person that would call me periodically to check on me, see how I was doing," Akeem Baker told CNN. "We would just share our stories together, we would just talk about dreams, just achieving in life. He always spoke about how we would both be at the top together someway, somehow, some day. "

Before the end of each conversation, Baker says his best friend would tell him he loved him.

"He'd say 'I love you, bro.' He spoke those words, 'I love you,' to everyone he came across," Baker said.

What we know about the killing

An April 1 autopsy report obtained by CNN Tuesday shows Arbery was shot three times, including twice in the chest.

Arbery suffered a "deep, gaping, shotgun graze" to his right wrist, as well as wounds to his upper left chest and lower middle chest, according to the report. Thirteen shotgun pellets exited Arbery's back, and 11 more were recovered from his wounds, the report says.

Greg McMichael told police that the day of the shooting, he grabbed a handgun, his son grabbed a shotgun and they chased Arbery in a truck, according to a police report.

On two occasions, Arbery avoided them. When they caught up to him a third time, Travis McMichael exited the truck with a shotgun and a struggle ensued between him and Arbery. Travis McMichael shot Arbery after he attacked him, the elder McMichael alleged to police.

In the autopsy report, GBI medical examiner Edmund Donoghue wrote Arbery "died of multiple shotgun wounds sustained during a struggle for the shotgun."

CNN's attempts to reach Greg and Travis McMichael have been unsuccessful. They both appeared in court Friday, where a judge said bail would be decided at a later date.

"It's like in every case where a tragedy like this happens and the person who caused it lies and tries to create false facts," Chris Stewart, an attorney for Arbery's family told CNN's Don Lemon Tuesday."

"Look at the police report," he said. "Saying there were a lot of thefts in the neighborhood -- a lie. Saying that Ahmaud attacked them -- a lie. Saying that he stole something and they were chasing this known suspect in the neighborhood -- it was a lie."

A fourth prosecutor assigned to case

Investigators aren't only focused on the shooting -- they're piecing together why for weeks, the case was passed down from prosecutor to prosecutor with no arrests.

Asked Friday why the GBI — which took over the case last week — quickly arrested the McMichaels when local authorities did not do so for weeks, GBI Director Vic Reynolds said he couldn't speak to the actions of other agencies.

"I'm very comfortable in telling you that there's more than sufficient probable cause in this case for felony murder," he added.

After the killing, two prosecutors recused themselves because of their connections to Greg McMichael and a third prosecutor was replaced this week by the state attorney general.

Here's who they are:

Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson first was assigned the case but recused herself, saying Greg McMichael had worked for her office.

Johnson advised State Attorney General Chris Carr to appoint Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill -- even though days earlier, Barnhill had told police "that he did not see grounds for the arrest of any of the individuals involved in Mr. Arbery's death," the GBI said.

After picking up the case, Barnhill wrote in an April 2 letter, "It appears their intent was to stop and hold this criminal suspect until law enforcement arrived. Under Georgia law, this is perfectly legal."

Less than a week later, Barnhill wrote his son and Gregory McMichael had helped with an earlier prosecution of Arbery when they both worked for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office.

He also recused himself from the case.

The case went to a third prosecutor -- Atlantic Judicial Circuit District Attorney Tom Durden, who had said he had "neither previous knowledge of the incident nor any relationship with any investigators or witnesses."

But Durden asked to step down and the case was reassigned to Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes, Carr said.

The GBI said it will be looking into prosecutorial misconduct by the two district attorneys who recused themselves, after Carr requested an investigation.

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