Kevin Gough, who represents one of the defendants in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, claimed the presence of high-profile Black people in the courtroom could “intimidate” the jury.
“If we’re going to start a precedent starting yesterday where we’re going to bring high-profile members of the African-American community into the courtroom to sit with the family during the trial in the presence of the jury I believe intimidating, that’s an attempt to pressure…or influence the jury,” Gough said.
“We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here…sitting with the victim’s family trying to influence the jury in this case,” he continued, referring to Al Sharpton who reportedly sat with the Arbery family and other people who may join them.
Gough represents William “Roddie” Bryan, one of the men charged with murdering Ahmaud Arbery after he attempted to hit Arbery several times with his car and directed him towards Greg and Travis McMichael, the latter of whom delivered the fatal shots that killed the 25-year-old.
Judge Timothy Walmsley replied that since he noticed Sharpton once in the courtroom and “that was it,” and lawyers weren’t aware of his presence until later, it undermines the argument that guests of the Arbery family could be any kind of distraction.
“I am not going to blanketly exclude members of the public from this courtroom,” Walmsley said.
“If individuals…end up sitting in the courtroom and they can do so respectful of the court’s process and in compliance with this court’s orders with regard to the conduct of the trial, and they’re not a distraction,” he continued, “then I’m not going to do anything about it. And I did not hear from anyone that there was any distraction whatsoever.”