Ahmaud Arbery Murder Trial Day 5: Defense attorney doesn't want 'anymore Black pastors' in court

The court concluded its fifth day of testimony in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial. It was a long another long day inside the Glynn County courtroom as the state showed a taped deposition that was more than four hours long, but it was a comment by the defense that caught everyone's attention.

The jury watched hours of recorded deposition with Larry English. English owned the unfinished home in the Satilla shores neighborhood where many said they spotted Arbery at before the shooting.

Both the state and defense showed video caught on security cameras. Many claim Arbery was seen on the property in the months leading up to the shooting and the day of the shooting.


But it wasn’t the testimony that has many raising eyebrows during the trial. It was comments made by defense attorney Kevin Gough who told the court "We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here."

"There’s only so many pastors they can have and if their pastor is Al Sharpton then that’s fine. That’s it. We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here or Jesse Jackson or whoever that was earlier coming in here and sitting with the victim's family trying to influence the jury in this case," defense attorney Kevin Gough said.

"If we are going to start a precedent where we are going to have high profile members of the African-American community into the courtroom to sit with the family in the presence of the jury then I believe that’s intimidation and an attempt to pressure," Gough said.

Gough expressed his displeasure with Rev. Al Sharpton and other high-profile names sitting inside the courtroom throughout the trial.

"If folks came in here dressed as Colonel Sanders with white mask sitting in the back then…" Gough said before being stopped by the judge.

Judge Walmsley said he barely noticed Rev. Sharpton in the court and as long as there were no disruptions then he didn’t see an issue.

"I’m not going to blanketly exclude people from the public from this courtroom," Walmsley said.

Rev. Sharpton issued a statement later in the day which read:

"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 of spiritual and community support.

"My attendance yesterday and in the days to come is not disruptive in any way and was at the invitation of the family of Ahmaud Arbery who have stated that publicly.

"The only way I could have been identified as a member of the ministry is if I was recognized for my public position and leadership.  How else would the defense attorney know who was a "black pastor" or not?

"This objection was clearly pointed at me and a disregard to the fact that a mother and father sitting in a courtroom with 3 men that murdered their son do not deserve the right to have someone present to give spiritual strength to bear this pain. This is pouring salt into their wounds.

"I respect the defense attorney doing his job but this is beyond defending your client, it is insulting to the family of the victim."

Court is expected to resume Friday morning at 9 a.m.

What's known about Ahmaud Arbery's death

A police report from the Glynn County Police Department says a man and his son, frustrated by a string of burglaries and break-ins in their neighborhood, decided to take matters in their own hands. 

The men saw Arbery running through the Satilla Shores subdivision and considered him suspicious, a report says. They armed themselves and pursued him. Gregory McMichael, who it was later discovered has ties to the Glynn County District Attorney's Office, told police that Arbery and Travis fought over his son’s shotgun and his son fired two shots, killing Arbery. 

Information that unfolded after the incident revealed Arbery was unarmed. 

It was later discovered a man named William "Roddie" Bryan allegedly joined the chase and eventually cut off Arbery's route before he was shot and killed. 

No one was arrested or charged for months after the shooting occurred. 

Suspects: Gregory and Travis McMichael, William "Roddie" Bryan

Greg McMichael is a retired investigator for former Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson. He retired in 2019. Phone records introduced in court show he called Johnson and left her a voicemail after the shooting. Johnson said she recused her office from the case immediately because of its relationship with Greg McMichael.

The McMichaels’ attorneys' offered the explanation that their clients pursued Arbery because they suspected he was a burglar. 

Security cameras had previously recorded Arbery entering a home under construction. 

Attorneys for Travis McMichael shot Arbery while fearing for his life as they grappled over a shotgun.

Greg and Travis McMichael were arrested in May 2020, several months after the shooting took place after a GBI investigation concluded there was evidence for charges against them. 

William "Roddie" Bryan followed the chase and recorded a video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery. Bryan was arrested weeks after the McMichaels. 

This story was reported on from Atlanta.