Judge in Arbery case rebukes defense attorney and calls comments ‘reprehensible’

The judge presiding over the trial of those accused of the Ahmaud Arbery murder admonished defense attorney Kevin Gough on Monday after he called for the trial to be annulled, citing the presence of prominent black pastors present throughout the proceedings.

“How many black shepherds does the Ahmaud Arbery family have?” Gough told the judge on Monday asking for the trial to be annulled, arguing the presence of figures like the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson were putting pressure on the jury.

It is the second time Gough has made comments about the presence of black pastors in the courtroom.

Judge Timothy Walmsley called those comments “reprehensible” and immediately ruled against the motion to vacate the trial.

“What we have now with the people entering the courtroom, I will say is a direct response, Mr. Gough, to the statements you made that I find reprehensible,” the judge told Gough.

“Colonel Sanders’ statement that he made last week would suggest that maybe something has influenced what is happening here,” Gough said.

Arbery, who was black, was jogging through a neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia, on February 25, 2020, when a trio of white men, the father-son duo Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, began to follow him in two vehicles. All three say they believe Arbery was scammed for a series of alleged robberies in the area.

The men eventually stopped and surrounded Arbery, 25. There was a brief fight before Arbery was fatally shot in the chest with a shotgun.

The graphic images of Arbery’s murder were not released until three months later, in May 2020, and quickly went viral and sparked national outrage.

The McMichaels and Bryan, whom Gough represents, face felony murder charges.

Race is at the forefront of the trial, and prosecutors have highlighted the fact that the defense successfully used its challenges against several potential jurors who were black. Only one member of the jury is black.

Gough has repeatedly tried to argue that the presence of figures like Jackson and Sharpton at trial is unfair to his client.

Jackson, a former presidential candidate, was present in the courtroom Monday morning when Gough filed his motion to vacate the trial.

On Thursday, Gough moved to have Sharpton and other prominent black figures excluded from the courtroom, arguing that they could be used to “intimidate” the jury.

“We don’t want any more black shepherds coming here,” Gough said at the time.

Gough continued, eventually making a reference to Colonel Sanders, the mascot for the Kentucky Fried Chicken fast food chain.

“If a group of people came in dressed like Colonel Sanders in white masks sitting in the back, I mean, that would be …” he said before Walmsley cut him off.

The next day, the defense attorney publicly apologized in court, but his actions have nevertheless been widely rejected.

It also prompted Sharpton to call other black pastors to join him outside the Glynn County, Georgia Courthouse next Thursday.

“There is no way to clear up your insult. It shows a basic bias, the same bias that killed Ahmaud Arbery, ”Sharpton said in a statement.

At the same time as the trial, there is the court case of Kyle Rittenhouse, the white teenager who shot several protesters during the riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last August, caused by a local white police officer who shot Jacob Blake, a black man, at one point. blank range.

Rittenhouse faces multiple felony charges, including two counts of murder.


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