A defense attorney representing the accused killers of Ahmaud Arbery asked a Georgia court on Thursday if Reverend Al Sharpton could be barred from the courtroom, claiming he may intimidate or influence the jury.
Lawyer Kevin Gough apologized on Friday for comments he made regarding Sharpton — which he described as “overly broad.” Gough said he will file a motion on Monday that will put his concerns into context, according to CNN.
In court on Thursday, Gough said it was “intimidating” that “high-profile members of the African American community” were sitting with Arbery’s family during the trial. He apparently raised those concerns after seeing Sharpton, 67, in the courtroom.
“Obviously there’s only so many pastors they can have. And if their pastor’s Al Sharpton right now that’s fine, but then that’s it. We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here … sitting with the victim’s family, trying to influence the jurors in this case,” Gough said, according to the Associated Press.
The defense attorney in the trial in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery is objecting to Al Sharpton’s presence in the courtroom, claiming it is intimidating the jury:
“We don’t want any more Black pastors in here” pic.twitter.com/LoQhor0WJN
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) November 11, 2021
Judge Timothy Walmsley told Gough that he did not see a problem with Sharpton sitting in on the trial if he is not disruptive and is taking the place of one of the victim’s relatives.
“I believe that’s intimidating and it’s an attempt to pressure,” Gough had said.
Eleven of the 12 jurors are White. Judge Walmsley acknowledged there was “intentional discrimination in the panel,” he said he could not reinstate any dismissed jurors, and the defense presented race-neutral arguments for their dismissals, NPR reported.
Travis McMichael, 34, is accused of fatally shooting Arbery, 25, twice in the chest as he jogged in Brunswick on February 23, 2020. His father, Gregory McMichael, 64, who is a former Glynn County investigator, is also facing murder charges for his role in Arbery’s alleged detainment and death.
The father and son, along with William Bryan Jr., 50, claim they were conducting a citizen’s arrest at the time of last year’s shooting.
Bryan, who filmed the fatal encounter, claimed he was solely a witness — but authorities alleged he used his vehicle to confine and detain Arbery in the minutes leading up to his murder.
Gregory McMichael allegedly said that Arbery resembled a suspect in a series of recent burglaries in the Satilla Shores neighborhood. However, police said the only recent break-in was on January 1, when a 9mm pistol was reportedly stolen from an unlocked truck outside the McMichaels’ home.
Gregory and Travis McMichael were arrested in May, two days after a video depicting Arbery’s death went viral. Bryan and the McMichaels were initially denied bond in July.
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[Featured image: Ahmaud Arbery/handout, Gregory and Travis McMichael/Glynn County Sheriff’s Office]