Defense Attorney at Ahmaud Arbery Trial Says Al Sharpton and Other Black Pastors Sitting With Victim’s Family Could ‘Pressure or Influence’ Jury

Family attorney Benjamin Crump speaks outside of the Glynn County courthouse on November 10 with the Arbery family and Rev. Al Sharpton. / AP

A defense attorney for one of three white men on trial for murdering Ahmaud Arbery told the judge Thursday he had an issue with Rev. Al Sharpton and other black pastors sitting with the victim’s family in court because it could intimidate the jury.

Attorney Kevin Gough, who represents William “Roddie” Bryan, asked the judge to step in after he learned Sharpton had been sitting with Arbery’s family in the Georgia courtroom a day earlier.

“There’s only so many pastors they can have. If their pastor is Al Sharpton right now, then that’s fine, but then that’s it,” Gough told Judge Timothy R. Walmsley.

“We don’t want any more black pastors coming in here or others, Jesse Jackson, whoever was in here earlier, sitting with the victim’s family trying to influence the jury in this case.”

Gough said he was concerned that allowing a precedent of “high-profile members of the African American community” to sit alongside the victim’s family “could be — consciously or unconsciously — an attempt to pressure or influence the jury.”

Rev. Sharpton held a prayer vigil outside the Glynn County Courthouse Wednesday, saying: “What has happened in this case, is a lynching in the 21st century.”

The defense attorney did not put a motion forward asking the judge to ban anyone from the courtroom Thursday, but asked the court to “take appropriate steps.”

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SOURCE: New York Post, Emily Crane

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