A defense attorney for one of the three white men standing trial for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, apologized on Friday for saying he didn’t want “any more black pastors” in court after Rev. Al Sharpton was seen sitting with Arbery’s family on Thursday.
Before testimony began on Friday, Kevin Gough, who is representing William “Roddie” Bryan said, “My apologies to anyone who might have inadvertently been offended,” according to CBS. Thursday, Gough requested the judge presiding over the case, Timothy R. Walmsley, limit the amount of black pastors in the courtroom.
“There’s only so many pastors they can have. If their pastor is Al Sharpton right now, then that’s fine, but then that’s it,” Gough said. The attorney also mentioned Rev. Jesse Jackson and said that the presence of black pastors could “influence the jury in this case.”
On February 23, 2020, father and son Greg and Travis McMichael with neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan pursued Arbery as he jogged in their neighborhood in Georgia. Bryan took cellphone footage which included Travis shooting Arbery 3 times.
Bryan and both McMichaels contend they were acting in self-defense after Arbery began to threaten them with his fist.
CBS reported on Wednesday that jury selection was narrowed from 48 to 12 with prosecutor Linda Dunikoski noting that only 1 juror is black. While eight black jurors were excluded from the final selections, attorneys for the defense were able to give nonracial reasons for their decisions to strike the potential black jurors.
For that reason, the judge did not change the racial makeup of the jury; though he said – “This court has found there appears to be intentional discrimination in the panel.”
Sharpton, who was invited to the trial by Arbery’s family, told CBS, “The arrogant insensitivity of attorney Kevin Gough in asking a judge to bar me or any minister of the family’s choice underscores the disregard for the value of the human life lost and the grieving of a family in need (of) spiritual and community support.”