A lawyer for one of the three white males accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man, in their southern Georgia neighborhood was unsuccessful in his attempt to have the judge order civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson to be removed from the courtroom on Monday, according to court documents.
This is the same lawyer, Kevin Gough, who unsuccessfully tried to have the court restrict any additional "Black pastors" from attending Arbery's trial last week after the Rev. Al Sharpton, another civil rights leader, was seen sitting with Arbery's parents in the public gallery during the last trial.
Following the jury's deliberations, Gough took the witness stand in Glynn County Superior Court and expressed his displeasure at what he called "an symbol of the civil rights movement" sitting between Arbery's mother and father.
"Can you tell me how many pastors the Arbery family has?" he asked, alluding to a similar objection he had voiced to Sharpton's visit the day before on Thursday. Seats in the public gallery of a courthouse are not like courtside seats at a Lakers game, as one might imagine." -
Gough speculated that the presence of civil rights leaders could have an impact on jurors deliberating on the high-profile case.
When cell phone footage taken by Gough's client, William "Roddie" Bryan, showing Arbery's fatal shooting after he was chased through Satilla Shores on a Sunday afternoon in February 2020 was released more than two months later, it sparked fury within the community.
Prosecutors said Arbery was an ardent jogger, and his death was interpreted by some as another another instance of a Black man being subjected to hazardous suspicion while engaging in a seemingly innocuous activity in public.
Jackson sat silently, holding the hands of Arbery's father, Marcus Arbery Sr., and mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, as he listened to Gough's speech. Jackson's mask did not cover his mouth or nose when Gough protested that it did not, so Cooper-Jones reached out his hand and lifted Jackson's mask back up. Gough was not wearing a Covid-19 mask at the time.
When Judge Timothy Walmsley dismissed Gough's application, it was clear that he was annoyed. He stated that his decision last week that he would not issue any blanket bans on who might enter a public courtroom was still in effect. He said that he was unaware that Jackson was present in the room until Gough moved the chair.
The judge thought it was strange that Gough continued to object to Black pastors attending, and he declared that he was "done talking about it."
"At this point, I'm not really clear what you're trying to accomplish," the judge stated emphatically. You appear to be attempting to keep this going for reasons other than simply bringing it to the court's attention, which I find reprehensible.
During a break in the hearings, Jackson stated outside the courthouse that he planned to remain in attendance throughout the week, describing it as "a constitutional right and a moral obligation."
"They're searching for a way to divert attention," he stated about the defense attorneys.
According to Sharpton, he would be joined in the courthouse on Thursday by more than 100 Black pastors.
Gregory and Travis McMichael, father and son of EMOTIONAL 'OUTCRY' Bryan, 52, are standing trial on charges of murder, assault, and false imprisonment alongside their father Gregory McMichael, 65, and son Travis McMichael, 35.
Despite the fact that they have pled not guilty, they claim they were justified in pursuing after Arbery in their pickup trucks because they suspected he had done some form of crime. They do not deny that the younger McMichael fired and killed Arbery with a shotgun, but they claim that he did so in self defense after Arbery turned toward him and reached for the weapon he had lifted.
In the aftermath of Jackson's decision to remain in court, Gough stated that he intended to seek for a mistrial based on an emotional "outcry" from Arbery's mother who was sitting in the public gallery when a photograph of Arbery was presented to jurors on Monday. As she sobbed, many jurors peeked over their shoulders.
Lawyers representing the McMichaels joined the petition to dismiss the case.
The judge overturned the decision, citing a legal precedent that stated that "emotions are neither illogical nor unexpected during murder trials," according to the judge.
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