Georgia judge denies defense motion for mistrial in Ahmaud Arbery case


More than 200 pastors gathered on Thursday outside the Glynn County courthouse in coastal Brunswick, Georgia. Organizers said it was a response to defense attorney Kevin Gough’s previous comments that he “didn’t want any more Black pastors” in the courtroom.

Several nationally known reverends and civil rights leaders including Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Martin Luther King III have sat with Arbery’s family in the courtroom at various times.

Gough’s client, William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, along with Greg McMichael, 65, a former policeman, and his son Travis McMichael, 35, are charged with the 25-year-old Black man’s murder. Prosecutors say they chased and shot Arbery to death as he took a Sunday afternoon jog on Feb. 23, 2020.

The three men have all pleaded not guilty and have said they were trying to make a citizen’s arrest of a man they thought was a burglar. They face life in prison if convicted.

Gough showed the court photographs of the large gathering on Thursday and said it was an unfair influence or perhaps intimidated the jury.

“This is what a mob-dominated trial looks like in the 21st century, and we’re asking for a mistrial,” Gough said, likening the group to yesteryear mobs carrying “pitchforks.”

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski countered that Gough, a “brilliant” and “calculating” lawyer, made the courtroom comment about Black pastors with the intention of provoking the gathering.

“He made comments about Al Sharpton and then Black pastors and Col. Sanders, all knowing full well it was being broadcast on television,” she said. “That was strategic. He got the response he wanted.”

Closing arguments in the case are expected to begin Monday.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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