Tensions flare in Arbery death trial as Jesse Jackson visits

BRUNSWICK (Ga.) -- Monday's mistrial request was denied by a judge at Ahmaud Abery's murder trial. Defense attorneys claimed that jurors were contaminated by weeping in the gallery where Ahmaud Arbery's parents sat. Jesse Jackson.

Tensions flare in Arbery death trial as Jesse Jackson visits

BRUNSWICK (Ga.) -- Monday's mistrial request was denied by a judge at Ahmaud Abery's murder trial. Defense attorneys claimed that jurors were contaminated by weeping in the gallery where Ahmaud Arbery's parents sat. Jesse Jackson.

Merve Dikici
Merve Dikici
15 November 2021 Monday 15:45
2124 Reads
Tensions flare in Arbery death trial as Jesse Jackson visits

BRUNSWICK (Ga.) -- Monday's mistrial request was denied by a judge at Ahmaud Abery's murder trial. Defense attorneys claimed that jurors were contaminated by weeping in the gallery where Ahmaud Arbery's parents sat. Jesse Jackson.

Arguments outside of the jury's presence pertaining to Jackson's appearance disrupted much of the morning's testimony. Judge said that he considered one defense lawyer's last week complaints about Black pastors "reprehensible", and would exclude any group from his courtroom.

After spotting Travis McMichael running through their neighborhood on February 23, 2020, Travis McMichael's father and son armed themselves to pursue him in a pickup truck. Their neighbor William Bryan joined the chase, and captured cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery with a shotgun three times.

Tensions flared in courtroom Monday morning shortly after Jackson was placed in the back row between Arbery and his parents. Kevin Gough, defense attorney, asked the judge for permission to let Jackson leave the courtroom to avoid unfairly informing the jury.

Gough, Bryan's attorney, complained last week to the Rev. Al Sharpton was present in the Glynn county courtroom with Arbery's father Marcus Arbery Sr. and Wanda Cooper-Jones. Gough stated to the judge that he didn't want any Black pastors entering here.

Gough stated Monday that there was no reason for prominent civil rights icons to be present. "With all due respect I would suggest that, regardless of intent, a juror will undoubtedly be influenced by their presence at the courtroom.

Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley turned down the request. Although courtrooms are open to the public, the judge has restricted seating in the public gallery due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Walmsley stated that the court will not single out an individual or group of people as being ineligible to enter his courtroom as members of the public. Walmsley said, "If there's a disruption you can call me to inform me."

Jackson stated to reporters that he was there to support Arbery's family and not to respond to the attorney's remarks about Black pastors.

Jackson stated, "As Jackson said, it was my constitutional rights to be there," Jackson said, "It is my moral obligation to go there."

Jackson admitted that Arbery's mom wept in courtroom when prosecutors showed her a photo of her son.

Gough's request for a mistrial was accepted by the other defense teams. Franklin Hogue, Greg McMichael's attorney, stated that he is concerned about the defendants not receiving fair trials in the community.

Jason Sheffield, Travis McMichaels' attorney, stated that the weeping caused some jurors look at Jackson, an icon, "whose autographed photograph hung in my mom's loft for many decades."

"Several jurors did look over. Sheffield said that their faces changed and they showed the emotion and sympathy they felt.

Walmsley advised the attorneys that their statements could have attracted some high-profile people to the courthouse.

The judge stated, "I will respond directly, Mr. Gough to statements that you made, which I find repugnable."

Walmsley cited a comment Gough made last week to support his "Black pastors” remark: "If a bunch came in here dressed as Colonel Sanders with white masks sitting at the back... before the judge cut him off.

Sharpton decried the jury's disproportionately white composition outside the courthouse last Wednesday. Walmsley allowed the jury members to be sworn into over objections from prosecutors. They claimed that several potential jurors had been excluded because they were Black. This left only one Black member of the jury. Glynn County is home to the trial and is almost 27% Black.

Sharpton stated he will return to the courthouse and activists claimed that 100 Black pastors would join him.

Bryan and the McMichaels were charged with murder and other offenses. Prosecutors claim they chased Arbery around for five minutes in an attempt to prevent him from leaving the Satilla Shores subdivision, just outside of Brunswick. Arbery was eventually stopped by Bryan's truck and tried to run around McMichaels' truck while it sat in front of him. Video shows Travis McMichael confronting Arbery, and then shooting him while he throws punches at the gun.

After security cameras captured Arbery several times in a house under construction five houses away, the McMichaels said they believed he was a burglar. According to the defense, Travis McMichael opened fired in self-defense.

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