Rev. Jesse Jackson appears in court for Ahmaud Arbery murder trial

Attorney Kevin Gough argued on Monday that the presence of civil rights leaders might intimidate jurors

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The lawyer for one of the three white men charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery was unsuccessful in his attempt to have Rev. Jesse Jackson booted from the courtroom on Monday after he arrived with Arbery’s father and Barbara Arnwine of the Transformative Justice Coalition.

Attorney Kevin Gough is the same lawyer who last week ranted in court about not wanting any more “Black pastors” attending the trial after Rev. Al Sharpton showed up to the Glynn County Courthouse on Nov. 10 to support Arbery’s family. 

The trial continued Monday with testimony from Georgia Bureau of Investigation Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jason Seacrist. He interviewed one of the three defendants months after the shooting last year.

After the jury was sent out, Gough objected to “an icon in the civil rights movement” sitting between Arbery’s father Marcus Arbery Sr., and mother Wanda Cooper-Jones, CNN reported.

Rev. Jesse Jackson
Jesse Jackson attends an International Conference ‘Is #Auschwitz only Sleeping?’ during the celebration of European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day in Krakow, Poland on 5 July, 2019. (Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“How many pastors does the Arbery family have?” he said, referring to Sharpton’s visit last week. “The seats in the public gallery of a courtroom are not like courtside seats at a Lakers game.”

Similar to his objection last week to “Black pastors” supporting the victim’s family, Gough argued that the presence of civil rights leaders might intimidate jurors. The judge, however, shot down Gough’s repeated objections to Black pastors in the courtroom, Reuters reports. 

“At this point, I’m not exactly sure what you’re doing,” the judge said. “It’s almost as if you’re just trying to keep continuing this for purposes other than just bringing it to the court’s attention and I find that objectionable.”

Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. are charged with malice and felony murder in connection with the killing of Arbery in Brunswick on February 23, 2020. They have pleaded not guilty, saying they were justified in chasing Arbery because they thought he was a criminal.

As previously reported by theGRIO, Arbery, 25, was allegedly jogging when he was chased and fatally shot by the white father and son. The McMichaels, accompanied by Bryan, their white neighbor, pursued Arbery in their truck, believing he was responsible for a string of robberies in the Satilla Shores subdivision. Bryan captured the incident on cellphone video. It took more than two months for the men to be charged, which occurred only after public outcry about the leaked video. 

Bryan and the McMichaels also face charges of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit a felony. If convicted, each faces life in prison without parole.

Left to right: Greg McMichael, Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr.(Photo: Glynn County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

On Thursday Gough called Sharpton’s presence in the courtroom “intimidating” and “an attempt to pressure.” 

Sharpton responded to Gough’s accusations of courtroom “intimidation”, saying in a statement: “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.”

Gough’s apologized Friday for his comments about Black pastors. 

“I will let the court know that if my statements yesterday were overly broad, I will follow up with a more specific motion on Monday putting those concerns in the proper context. And my apologies to anyone who might have inadvertently been offended,” he said.

Gough called for a mistrial on Monday after Arbery’s mother’s “outcry” to a photograph of her son that was shown to jurors. The judge overruled the motion, noting that “emotions are neither unreasonable nor unexpected during murder trials.”

Sharpton intends to join 100 Black pastors at the courthouse on Thursday.

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