BRUNSWICK, Ga. — A tense discussion broke out Thursday during the murder trial of three white men charged in Ahmaud Arbery’s killing when a defense attorney said the presence of “high-profile members of the African American community” may pressure or intimidate the jury.

Kevin Gough is a defense attorney representing William “Roddie”, Bryan. He took issue with Rev. Al Sharpton was present in courtroom that day.

Gough explained that if we were to create a precedent by bringing prominent members of the African American Community into courtrooms to be present during trial, it would have to begin yesterday.

Sharpton and civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents Arbery’s father, listened to testimony Wednesday after holding a press conference and prayer vigil outside outside, where Sharpton called Arbery’s killing “a lynching in the 21st century.”

Sharpton stated that he was invited at Brunswick by Arbery and his parents. Sharpton raised concerns over the jury’s inability to represent the Black population.of Glynn County.Although Black residents make up more than 25% in Glynn county, one juror is Black.

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Defense attorney Kevin Gough reacts as he speaks at the jury selection in the trial of William "Roddie" Bryan, Travis McMichael and Gregory McMichael, charged with the February 2020 death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, at the Gwynn County Superior Court, in Brunswick, Ga., Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021.

Gough argued he was worried about “political interests” entering the courtroom.

“Obviously there aren’t enough pastors.Gough added, “We don’t want any Black pastors coming into here or any Jesse Jackson or anyone else who was here this week earlier.”

Linda Dunikoski, the prosecutor of Sharpton, said that she wasn’t aware and didn’t dispute Sharpton being there. Dunikoski stated, “It’s public courtroom.”

Gough responded by referring to the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

“If a bunch of folks came in here dressed like Colonel Sanders with white masks, sitting in the back, I mean that would be —” Gough began to say before the judge cut him off.

Gough did not make a formal motion barring anyone from the courtroom. Judge Timothy Walmsley stated that he wouldn’t grant it if Gough tried.

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“The fact that nobody even noticed that (Sharpton) was in here means that everybody complied with this court’s rulings,” Walmsley said, adding, “I’m not going to blanketly exclude members of the public.”

Defense attorney Jason Sheffield, who represents Travis McMichael, said he was aware of Sharpton’s presence but that Sharpton was “not a distraction.”

Representatives from Sharpton Jackson, Crump and Jackson did not respond immediately to inquiries for comment.

Thursday was the fifth day witness testimony during the trial. Travis McMichael, Travis McMichael, and Bryan McMichael, the neighbor in Arbery’s murder, were charged Thursday. Travis McMichael killed Arbery after being spotted by a neighbor at his house. They then drove off to chase him with trucks.

The defense attorneys presented the picture of “neighborhoods on edge” with a father-son duo who believe Arbery was seen entering the construction site from surveillance video. 

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Prosecutors claimed that the defendants did not have any evidence Arbery was guilty of a crime.

The Thursday recording of Larry English’s recorded deposition was played by prosecutors. English owned the Satilla Shores area construction site. A series of surveillance video recordings from English’s property were included in the September recording, as well as 911 calls that began in October 2019.

English told prosecutors he was building a second home at the site while living about two hours away. English set up motion activated cameras to alert him via his smartphone of any suspicious activity. English reported two white couples and one Black man to police from Oct. 2019 to Feb. 2020.

English stated that English gave permission for his neighbor to confront the people living on the property. However, he didn’t give permission to McMichaels.

Source: USAToday.com

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