Breaking News
More () »

'It was unreal': Ahmaud Arbery's mother reacts to defense attorney telling judge 'we don't want any more Black pastors coming in here'

William Roddie Bryan's attorney told the judge he's concerned "high profile members of the African American community" in the courthouse could influence jurors.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Thursday marked the fifth day of testimony in the murder trial in the death of Ahmaud Arbery.

Jurors listened to a recorded deposition from Larry English, the man who owned the home under construction where Arbery was before he was killed, for the entire day. English didn't testify in person due to health issues.

He told the court he doesn't remember Arbery taking anything from his home. English said he did call 911 one night on Arbery, telling the dispatcher Arbery "looks like he's up to no good."

English lived 90 miles away from the home, and was two hours away from the home when the shooting happened. 911 calls were played in court, and surveillance videos were played showing Arbery in the home.

English had motion activated surveillance cameras. He’d get an alert, he said, when someone set off the cameras. English said he gave neighbor Diego Perez permission to check his property if his cameras went off, and if there was a person on the property, he gave Perez permission to hold them until police got there.

English has maintained in the past he never wanted anything bad to happen to Arbery. He called the McMichaels’ actions the day of the shooting a “vigilante response.” English also contacted police regarding a white couple who had been in the home too. He suspected they may have taken something from the home.

“It was just clarification because all the time I knew he hadn’t taken anything, so it was just reassuring,” Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, said. “I can use that word. I was reassured that Ahmaud was shot and killed for no apparent reason,” she told On Your Side’s Kailey Tracy Thursday evening.

Perhaps the most startling statements Thursday didn’t come from English. Instead, they came from William Roddie Bryan’s attorney, Kevin Gough. Noting the support Arbery’s family has seen from national civil rights activists and pastors, Gough asked to limit their presence in the courtroom.

He told the judge the Reverend Al Sharpton was in the courtroom Wednesday, but admitted he only realized that when he got home. He said “there’s only so many pastors they can have,” speaking about Arbery’s famiy.

“We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here,” Gough continued.

Gough said he’s concerned having “high profile members of the African American community in the courtroom because he’s worried it could influence and/or intimidate the jury. Gregory McMichael said it serves as reminder to keep outside influences outside the courtroom.

The state said it didn’t know anything about Sharpton coming, but said it’s a public courtroom. Gough doubled down on his comments, saying “What if folks came in here dressed as Colonel Sanders dressed in white masks in the back,” Gough said.

Cooper-Jones said she found Gough’s statements disturbing.

“It was unreal because the family has really taken a loss, and I would think any support the family can get, they would allow that and it wouldn’t be frowned upon,” she said.

Cooper-Jones says she’s take things hour by hour.

“The next 10 days, the remainder of the trial, they’re going to be challenging, but they’re interesting because these are days I’ve waited on for the last 18 months. I want to embrace the next 10 to 15 days because I waited on these days and I’m very, very thankful that they finally arrived,” she said.

Prosecutors will continue to question their witnesses Friday at 9 a.m. According to Travis McMichael’s attorney, Jason Sheffield, he thinks the state will wrap up Monday or Tuesday of next week. Then, Tuesday or Wednesday the defense will start presenting.

Sheffield predicts closing arguments will start Friday of next week or Monday of the week of Thanksgiving. He said he hopes to have the jurors finish deliberating before Thanksgiving.

Paid Advertisement

Before You Leave, Check This Out