Defense attorney in trial for Arbery’s killer apologizes for ‘Black pastors’ rant in courtroom

Kevin Gough said he's sorry to anyone who was "inadvertently" offended

The defense attorney in the murder trial for Ahmaud Arbery’s killers, who said that he didn’t want “any more Black pastors” in court after seeing Rev. Al Sharpton sitting with the victim’s family, apologized for his statements on Friday.

My apologies to anyone who might have inadvertently been offended,said Kevin Gough, who is representing William “Roddie” Bryan, just before testimonies began on day five of the trial.

Bryan is one of three men — including father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael — who are facing nine criminal charges including felony murder, aggravated assault and false imprisonment after death of Arbery.

The trial started on Monday and is expected to be two weeks long.

“There’s only so many pastors they can have,” said Gough during the fourth day of the trial. “If their pastor is Al Sharpton right now, then that’s fine, but then that’s it.”

Gough went on to complain to the judge that the presence of Black pastors was “unfair” and could “influence the jury in this case.”

“I’ve got nothing personally against Mr. Sharpton … but if we’re starting a precedent where we’re gonna 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 that’s intimidating and it’s an attempt to consciously or unconsciously pressure or influence the jury,” Gough reportedly ranted to Judge Timothy Walmsley, according to TMZ.

In February of 2020, 25-year-old Arbery was chased by the McMichaels and Bryan, who claim they were conducting a citizen’s arrest after they suspected that Arbery was responsible for a string of robberies in the Satilla Shores subdivision.

Bryan recorded the incident which ended with Travis shooting Arbery three times in what many are calling a modern-day lynching.

More than two months after the video went viral, the men were charged for Arbery’s death.

Ahmaud Arbery Suspects
A Glynn County police officer at the time of Ahmaud Arbery’s killing at the hands of (from left) Greg McMichael, Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. testified Bryan never told him Arbery was armed. (Photos: Glynn County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Sharpton responded to Gough’s original comments. “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 spiritual and community support,” said Sharpton in a statement.

The Arbery family attorney, Lee Merritt, said that the defense is looking to have a mistrial.

The highly-publicized trial has been in the headlines for some time.

Many scrutinized the selected of jurors — 11 who are white and one who is Black. There were eight Black jurors in the pool for the final selection.

theGrio’s Ny Magee and April Ryan contributed to this story.

Have you subscribed to the Grio podcasts, ‘Dear Culture’ or Acting Up? Download our newest episodes now!

TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!