Tensions flare at Ahmaud Abery Murder Procedure Over Presence of Rev. Jesse Jackson in Courtroom

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Tensions flared Monday at Ahmaud Abery’s murder trial. The judge denied mistrial requests by the defense attorneys for three white men accused in the killing of the Black jogger. Lawyers claimed jurors were corrupted by the sight of Arbery’s parents seated with the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

“There is no reason for these prominent icons in the civil rights movement to be here,” defense attorney  Kevin Gough said Monday. “With all due respect, I would suggest, whether intended or not, that inevitably a juror is going to be influenced by their presence in the courtroom.”

Morning testimony was derailed by arguments outside the jury’s presence. Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley denied Jackson removal and said that Jackson would not be removed from the courtroom.

Gough, who objected to the Rev., sparked a controversy last week. Al Sharpton attended the proceedings. “We don’t want anymore Black pastors coming in here,”The lawyer stated.

Gough’s comment was called by the judge on Monday “reprehensible.”

Walmsley warned attorneys that their own statements might have lured high-profile individuals to the courthouse.

“I will say that is directly in response, Mr. Gough, to statements you made, which I find reprehensible,”The judge stated.

Jackson stated to reporters that he had come to Georgia’s Brunswick coastal town to support Arbery’s family. 

“As the judge said, it was my constitutional right to be there,”Jackson spoke. “It’s my moral obligation to be there.”

Since its inception, this case has been subject to racial charges.

Gough, representing defendant William, was present at the court’s reconvened after a lunch break. “Roddie”Bryan Jr. spoke out about Sharpton’s presence. 

“There’s only so many pastors they can have,”Gough, “If they have Pastor Al Sharpton right now, then that’s fine. That’s it. We don’t want anymore Black pastors coming in here or Jessie Jackson, or whoever was in here earlier this week, sitting with the victim’s family trying to influence a jury in this case,”The attorney informed the court.

Gough was accused on social media of making racist comments. On Friday he issued an apology of sorts, saying in a statement, “My apologies to anyone who might have inadvertently been offended.”

Gough’s comments to the court were made without the presence of jurors. He was upset at what he called “A precedent, 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.

“It’s intimidating, and an attempt to put pressure on me. He said.

All three of the defendants and all 11 members on the jury are white. Sharpton, who is a supporter of Arbery’s parents, was seated at the back. The judge stated that Sharpton was present in the courtroom before he arrived and that it did not disrupt the proceedings.

Sharpton in a statement said Gough’s remarks showed “arrogant insensitivity.”

“I respect the defense attorney doing his job,”Sharpton stated: “but this is beyond defending your client, it is insulting the family of the victim.”

Arbery, 25, who was Black, was shot to death in February 2020 as he ran through a suburban Glynn County neighborhood on a Sunday morning. Father and son Greg McMichael, 65, and Travis McMichael, 35, and neighbor William Bryan, 52, are all accused of murder. 

Greg McMichael said that his son fired in self defense to investigators. In court, the attorneys for the accused claimed that their clients were trying perform an Arbery citizen’s arrest. Travis McMichael, the lawyer for the accused, stated that his client was afraid for his life after he fired his shotgun.