Marcus Arbery Sr., Ahmaud Arbery’s father, and Barbara Arnwine of the Transformative Justice Coalition accompanied Jesse Jackson to the Glynn County Courthouse. Jackson sat alongside Arbery’s parents in the courtroom.
In the late morning, lawyers for all three defendants urged the judge to declare a mistrial, but Judge Timothy Walmsley dismissed the moves.
Because Jesse Jackson is “an icon in the civil rights movement,” defence counsel Kevin Gough claimed that Jackson’s presence distracted and improperly swayed the jury.
According to lawyer Jason Sheffield, the showing of a photo of Arbery provoked tears in the courtroom, and the pathos of the event was heightened by Jackson’s presence.
Gough’s statements in court on Thursday prompted Jackson’s appearance. “We don’t want any more Black preachers or other Jesse Jackson coming in here, sitting with the victim’s family attempting to influence a jury in this case,” he stated.
Gough apologised for his remarks, but the aftermath has already drawn more attention to a trial in which race has been a major focus. Three White guys are under trial for pursuing and murdering a Black man.
Gough urged the judge on Monday morning to compel a court official to keep a list of those in the courtroom who jurors may see in case any of the three defendants is convicted and an appeal is filed.
Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. have been charged with malice and criminal murder in connection with Arbery’s death on February 23, 2020 in Brunswick. They also face aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit a crime charges. They have all pled not guilty. If convicted, each man may face life in jail with no chance of release.
Arbery’s family claims he was out on a jog when he was fatally shot, but defence counsel claim the three men were trying a citizen’s arrest before Travis McMichael shot Arbery in self-defense.
During a press conference in Savannah on Sunday afternoon, Jesse Jackson stated that he expected to appear in court in Brunswick on Monday.
“And the defence attorney, Gough, invited us there last week,” Jackson continued, referring to Bryan’s attorney. Jesse Jackson has not been in court since the trial began.
During a break in the court hearings on Wednesday, civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton joined Arbery’s parents and held their hands to pray together.
Gough stated on Thursday that he had “nothing personally against” Sharpton, but that sending “high-profile members of the African American community into the courtroom to sit with the family during the trial in the face of the jury” was “intimidating” and a “effort to pressure.”
On Friday, Gough stated, “I’ll notify the court that if my words yesterday were unduly general, I’ll file a more detailed motion on Monday to put those concerns in appropriate context. And please accept my apologies to anyone who has been harmed unwittingly.”
The judge had informed Gough that he didn’t mind Sharpton standing in for an Arbery family member in court.
Neighbors searched for an unknown trespasser.
On the day of the shooting, the McMichaels and Arbery clashed just minutes after a neighbour contacted police to report that Arbery was on the property of homeowner Larry English Jr.
A police officer said Friday that English had called authorities several times in the months leading up to the shooting about trespassers on his property, which was under construction, and that English had given footage of an unidentified figure on the site.