Georgia Homeowner’s Lawyer Communicates Deftly

Thom Weidlich 05.14.20


The nation and world are gripped by the horrible story of a Georgia man who was shot and killed while jogging. The lawyer for the owner of a property the man visited before being killed has communicated deftly in defending her client against accusations that he or his family had anything to do with the incident.

Elizabeth Graddy’s client, Larry English, owns the under-construction home in Brunswick, Georgia, where Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old African-American man, stopped by during a jog on Feb. 23 before being shot to death by father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael. A video camera set up at the site captured Arbery looking at the construction (Arbery’s family confirms it’s him, Graddy says).

The McMichaels, who are white,  weren’t arrested until May 7, after public furor over a separate video of the actual shooting. The McMichaels contend they shot Arbery because he was robbing English’s property, which has caused anger to be aimed at English. He has reportedly received death threats. The video taken at his house shows Arbery entering it, having a quick look around, and then leaving.

Attorney Graddy’s task in her interviews with journalists has been to protect her client, to remove any notion the alleged trespassing had anything to do with the shooting, and to not malign Arbery or his family. She has repeated her talking points that English didn’t complain about Arbery, didn’t distribute the video, and didn’t know the McMichaels. At the time of the killing, English, a beekeeper, was 90 miles away at his current home with his wife and two children.

“The English family’s concern is that this video is somehow going to be used in some sort of false narrative in a way that would perhaps set up a justification for what the McMichaels did, which is something that the McMichaels took it upon themselves to do,” Graddy (pictured) told ABC News on May 11. (English himself appeared with his lawyer on CNN with Chris Cuomo on May 12.)

Nothing Taken

Graddy emphasized on ABC that the McMichaels couldn’t have known of the video from the property before the shooting — English himself didn’t see it until after Arbery was dead. In October, English told law enforcement that someone had been coming onto the site, but he never characterized it as burglary, she said. “He said absolutely nothing has ever been taken from the property.”

Graddy made a further good point in distancing her client from the killing: That even if Arbery had taken anything from his land, English wouldn’t have wanted what happened.

“Even if some property was damaged or taken or stolen, all he would want is for the police to be called and for the police to deal with it,” she said. “He would never want deadly force used to protect property. He’s been very clear about that.”

She said the English family has been under incredible strain and may never move into the house.  Still, they understand that Arbery is the real victim, she said. The Englishes “didn’t ask for the McMichaels to do this, they didn’t know the McMichaels, they never would have asked for any of this to happen. And they are deeply sorry for the pain that the Arberys are suffering.”

One YouTube commenter wrote about the ABC interview, “She was a very good spokesperson for the property owners.”

We agree.

Photo Credit: ABC News via YouTube

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