Sean Rayford / AP
BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) – A lawyer for one of the white men on trial in Ahmaud Arbery’s death told the judge on Thursday that he does not want “more black priests” in the courtroom after Pastor Al Sharpton sat with the slain man family.
Kevin Gough represents William “Roddie” Bryan, who along with father and son Greg and Travis McMichael are charged with murder and other crimes in Arbery’s killing on February 23, 2020. The 25-year-old black man was hunted and shot dead after they defendants then saw him run in their neighborhood outside the port city of Brunswick in Georgia.
Gough told Supreme Court Justice Timothy Walmsley that he was concerned that Sharpton’s presence in court Wednesday was an attempt to intimidate the disproportionately white jury that heard the case. The jury was not in the courtroom when he made the remarks.
“Of course there are only as many pastors they can have,” Gough said. “And if their pastor is Al Sharpton right now, that’s fine, but that’s it. We do not want more black priests coming in here … sitting with the victim’s family and trying to influence jurors in this case. “
Jason Sheffield, one of Travis McMichael’s lawyers, told the judge he did not notice any distractions caused by Sharpton, who was sitting in the back row of the courtroom wearing a mask.
Gough said he was not aware Sharpton had been there until after the court had adjourned for the day.
“You did not even realize it until later?” said the judge. “I’m not sure what we’re doing.”
Sharpton held a prayer watch and press conference outside the Glynn County Courthouse Wednesday afternoon to show support for Arbery’s family. Afterwards, he joined Arbery’s parents and their lawyers to listen to parts of the trial.
Sharpton said in a statement that Gough’s remarks showed “arrogant insensitivity.”
“I respect the defense attorney who does his job,” Sharpton said, “but this is beyond defending your client, it offends the victim’s family.”
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