Homeowner's lawyer: Ahmaud Arbery may have entered property for water breaks before fatal shooting

Lawyer also says text messages reveal police enlisted suspect's help in patrolling Georgia neighborhood
SAVANNAH, Ga. -- The attorney for a homeowner thrust into the spotlight of the Ahmaud Arbery shooting says a young black man may have entered the property to drink water and that newly released text messages show that police enlisted the suspect's help in patrolling the Georgia neighborhood.

Arbery was killed Feb. 23 in a pursuit by a white father and son who armed themselves after the 25-year-old black man ran past their yard just outside the port city of Brunswick. Right before the chase, Arbery was recorded inside an open-framed home being built on the same street.

Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, have been jailed on murder charges since May 7. The elder McMichael told police he suspected Arbery was responsible for recent break-ins in the neighborhood. He also said Arbery attacked his son before he was shot.

Arbery's mother has said she believes her son was merely out jogging.

On Friday, an attorney for the owner of the Satilla Shores house under construction released security camera videos from December that show a black man entering the property and leaving, running at a jogger's pace.

"It now appears that this young man may have been coming onto the property for water," J. Elizabeth Graddy, the attorney for homeowner Larry English, said in a statement. "There is a water source at the dock behind the house as well as a source near the front of the structure. Although these water sources do not appear within any of the cameras' frames, the young man moves to and from their locations."

Nothing had been stolen from the property, she said.

Graddy also shared a text exchange with ABC News, allegedly showing that a police officer sent McMichael's phone number to English and told him that McMichael would offer assistance if anyone else came onto the construction site.

"This text may be the reason [police] didn't arrest him because they knew they could be implicated as aiding and abetting in the crimes of the McMichaels," said attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents Arbery's family.

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Attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents Ahmaud Arbery's family, said security videos and text messages show that an "organized mob" had a "premeditated plan" to capture Arbery.



Graddy said English had previously sent screenshots of people entering the property to police but never saw this text message and never contacted McMichael.

English noticed that people were entering the construction site because his phone would send him a push notification when a motion sensor was triggered, Graddy told ABC News.

The security video shows several different people entering the property, one appearing to be Arbery.

Crump, who said he's been in contact with Graddy, said these videos along with the text messages show that an "organized mob" had a "premeditated plan" to capture Arbery.

"But we know there were white people entering the construction that we see in the video, and nobody had a plan to confront and capture them. The only reason they did this apparently is because of the color of Ahmaud's skin," he said.

Defense lawyers for Gregory McMichael said Friday that they have examined evidence that "tells a very different story" about Arbery and the two men charged with killing him. Attorney Laura Hogue told reporters: "There is more than one video of the incident."

She did not give any specifics. A roughly 40-second cellphone video of the shooting was leaked online last week, a day before the McMichaels were charged the felony murder and aggravated assault. The video fueled a national outcry not just over the killing but also that more than two months passed before arrests were made.

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Attorney Franklin Hogue, hired to defend Gregory McMichael along with his law partner wife, said more details would be revealed at a preliminary court hearing that he plans to request soon.

"The truth will reveal this is not just another act of violent racism," Franklin Hogue told a news conference outside the couple's Macon office. "Greg McMichael did not commit murder. Greg McMichael is not a party to the crime of murder."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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