The judge in the Georgia-based Ahmaud Arbery murder trial denied a motion on Monday to remove the Rev. Jesse Jackson from the gallery while the case against the three white defendants was being heard, the Washinton Examiner reports.
Attorney Kevin Gough reportedly asked Judge Timothy Walmsley to put Jackson in the overflow room out of sight of the jury, but he refused to do so.
“We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here or other Jesse Jackson, whoever was in here earlier this week, sitting with the victim’s family trying to influence a jury in the case.”
Gough also objected to Rev. Al Sharpton’s presence during the case, then later apologized for comments about Sharpton being there.
“Assinine and ridiculous”
Another lawyer on the case, Jason Sheffield, called the request and remarks “assinine and ridiculous.”
Gough is the lawyer for William “Roddie” Bryan, one of the three men charged with nine different offenses each, including malice murder, felony murder, and aggravated assault. Bryan and the other two defendants Travis McMichael, and his father, Greg McMichael, are accused of cornering Arbery as he was jogging and shooting him because of the color of his skin.
The men argued that Arbery was seen on security camera footage stealing items from a construction site, but investigators did not find the argument compelling.
Jackson walked into the courthouse hand in hand with Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery Sr., and Barbara Arnwine of the Transformative Justice Coalition.
His presence will no doubt be disruptive and have an influence on the jury, which is almost all white, in the opinions of many.
Men claim self-defense
The case came to light because of footage Bryan took of the incident, which was leaked online, and then investigated by the FBI.
The men claim that Arbery’s shooting was in self-defense after they cornered him to make a citizen’s arrest, and he decided to fight back.
However, the comments Greg McMichael provided to the police contradict statements he made in court. Arbery “was trapped like a rat, I think he was wanting to flee and he realized something, that he was not going to get away,” McMichael said to police the day after the shooting.