William "Roddie" Bryan, who filmed the killing of Arbery, said he heard defendant Travis McMichael use the term as he stood over the jogger before police arrived, according to Georgia investigator Richard Dial.
McMichael and his father Gregory, a former police officer, armed themselves and chased the 25-year-old man when they saw him running through Satilla Shores, a neighborhood two miles from his home in Brunswick. Bryan, who is also charged with murder, said he spotted them driving by and joined the chase, according to Dial.
The three suspects used their trucks to chase down and box in Arbery, who changed directions and jumped into a ditch to escape.
After Arbery was forced to stop, Travis McMichael got out of his truck and confronted him with a pump-action shotgun.
He allegedly shot the jogger three times, twice in the chest and once in the hand. He told police he fired in self-defense because Arbery refused his order to get on the ground, Dial said.
But the investigator said the evidence pointed to murder, rather than the trio's claim they were carrying out a citizens' arrest of a suspected burglar.
Gregory McMichael told police that "he didn't know if Arbery had stolen anything or not, but he had a gut feeling" that Arbery was behind break-ins in the area, Dial said.
The investigator also said a Confederate symbol had been found in Travis McMichael's truck and several more racial slurs in messages on his phone.
The three men were arrested more than two months after the killing, in May, following a storm of public outcry after the video of the incident was released.
Special prosecutor Jesse Evans told the hearing to determine if the case can go to trial, the victim "was chased, hunted down and ultimately executed." A judge ruled it can advance to the trial court.