Hate crime trial being held for death of Ahmaud Arbery
Ringgold lawyer, former GA state representative, explains need for federal trial
Brunswick, Georgia (WDEF) — The men responsible for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery are on trial again, this time for federal hate crime charges.
However, all three were sentenced to life in prison, leaving some to perhaps wonder why an additional trial is necessary.
McCracken Poston, a criminal defense lawyer in Ringgold, Georgia, and a former Georgia state representative, clarified that it’s not simply a case of judicial overkill and that what’s being done is being done to see justice upheld in the eyes of the law.
“What if there was an appeal in the Georgia case that the federal authorities could have no control over and what if their convictions were overturned in the Georgia case, which the federal authorities would have no control over?” Poston said. “It may appear to be piling on but it’s prosecutors staying within their own lanes and applying the laws that they can apply toward this.”
Poston co-sponsored one of the state’s first attempts in establishing a hate crime law in 1990, but it wouldn’t be until June 2020 in the wake of Arbery’s killing that a law of its kind was signed.
Poston said this new federal trial can be held due to ex post facto law.
“Constitutionally, we are prohibited from having to be charged with a law that wasn’t in place when the offense took place,” Poston said. “But the feds already had a hate crimes law and so that’s what these three men are being charged with right now under the federal law.”
As for what makes a specific crime a hate crime, Poston said it’s a “challenge” to prove for prosecutors who will review “past texts, emails, and live witness statements” to learn the “frame of mind” of the three men “before the offense ever happened.”
“A good question I heard someone put it was if Arbery had been a white jogger jogging through the neighborhood, would they have even gotten in their trucks and confronted him?” Poston said. “That’s the question. I don’t know all the facts of the case but that was just a way that someone put it that kind of put it in a good frame of mind.”