Attorney accuses Al Sharpton of intimidating jury

November 11, 2021
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BRUNSWICK, Ga. — A tense discussion broke out Thursday afternoon during the murder trial of three white men charged in Ahmaud Arbery’s killing when a defense attorney said the presence of “high-profile members of the African American community” may pressure or intimidate the jury.

Defense attorney Kevin Gough, who represents William “Roddie” Bryan, took issue with the Rev. Al Sharpton’s presence in the courtroom the day before.

“If we’re going to start a precedent, starting yesterday, where we’re going to bring high-profile members of the African American community into the courtroom to sit with the family during the trial in the presence of the jury, I believe that’s intimidating and it’s an attempt to pressure … or influence the jury,” Gough said.

Sharpton and civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents Arbery’s fathe, listened to testimony Wednesday after holding a press conference and prayer vigil outside outside, where Sharpton called Arbery’s killing “a lynching in the 21st century.”

Sharpton, who said he was invited to Brunswick by Arbery’s parents, also raised concerns about the makeup of the jury failing to reflect the Black populationof Glynn County.

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Gough argued he was worried about “political interests” entering the courtroom.

“Obviously, there’s only so many pastors they(the family) can have,” Gough said, adding, “We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here, or any Jesse Jackson or whoever was in here earlier this week.”

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said she was unaware of Sharpton’s presence and did not take issue with it. “It’s a public courtroom,” Dunikoski added.

Gough, in response, appeared to reference the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

“If a bunch of folks came in here dressed like Colonel Sanders with white masks, sitting in the back, I mean that would be —” Gough began to say before the judge cut him off.

Gough stopped short of making a formal motion to bar anyone from the courtroom, and Judge Timothy Walmsley indicated he would not grant one if he did.

“The fact that nobody even noticed that (Sharpton) was in here means that everybody compiled with this court’s rulings,” Walmsley said, adding, “I’m not going to blanketly exclude members of the public.”

Defense attorney Jason Sheffield, who represents Travis McMichael, said he was aware of Sharpton’s presence but that he was “not a distraction.”

More:Georgia man who called police on Ahmaud Arbery describes ‘shocking scene’ in the street after shooting

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