Arbery suspect’s attorney likens pastors’ rally to ‘lynching’

Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 9:52 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2021 at 10:23 AM EST
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BRUNSWICK, Ga. - A defense attorney in the murder trial over Ahmaud Arbery’s death is likening a large courthouse rally supporting the slain Black man’s family to a “public lynching” of the white defendants.

Attorney Kevin Gough made the comments in again seeking a mistrial Friday, telling the judge that outside parties have “infected” the case and made a fair trial impossible.

The judge denied the request during the “charging conference” that took place a day after the defense lawyers rested their cases and ahead of Monday’s closing arguments.

Gough spoke the day after hundreds of Black pastors gathered outside the Glynn County Courthouse to pray and rally.

Gough represents William “Roddie” Bryan, who took cellphone video of the February 2020 shooting.

The pastors’ rally was organized in response to Gough’s comments last week that “Black pastors” should be barred from the courtroom.

Lawyers for Bryan asked prosecutors for a plea deal, Arbery family attorney Lee Merritt told CBS News.

Merritt said the prosecution “turned it down — flat out.”

Bryan admitted to pursuing and boxing in Arbery with his vehicle and recorded video of the February 2020 fatal shooting in Brunswick, Merritt said.

Merritt told CBS News he believes the request means Bryan is “concerned about the strength of the state’s case.”

Gough disputed this report, saying “that’s bulls***.”

Gough would not elaborate further as he made his way to the courtroom Friday morning.

Defense lawyers rested their cases Thursday after calling a total of seven witnesses.

The people who testified in the men’s defense included the man who fatally shot Arbery, Travis McMichael. Six neighbors testified about their concerns regarding crime in the neighborhood. Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday.

McMichael and his father, Greg McMichael, armed themselves and pursued the 25-year-old Black man in a pickup truck after he ran past their home from the house under construction. A neighbor, Bryan, joined the chase in his own truck and recorded cellphone video. All of the defendants are white.

The McMichaels told police they suspected Arbery — who has family ties to the CSRA and is buried near Waynesboro — was a burglar because security cameras had recorded him several times in the unfinished house on their street.

Arbery’s killing deepened a national outcry over racial injustice after the video of his death leaked online.

Closing arguments are expected to take place Tuesday.

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