Bryan, along with former cop Gregory McMichael and his son Travis, is accused of murdering Arbery on Feb. 23, 2020, after spotting Arbery running near the site of a home under construction in Brunswick, Georgia. The case, over which a prosecutor is indicted for alleged misconduct, has prompted so much outrage in Georgia and beyond that, although some 1,000 potential jurors were summoned, attorneys had a hard time seating 12 people who didn’t openly communicate a bias during voir dire. Only one seated juror is Black.
”I was aware that the media has spotlighted the story, yes,” Seacrist said at one point during testimony. Gough has also thrust himself in the limelight with racially insensitive remarks made during the trial on Thursday. He said at the time that noted civil rights leader and minister Al Sharpton’s presence in court would be allowed but that, “we don’t want any more Black pastors in here.” Gough has since attempted a pseudo apology for the remarks. “My apologies to anyone who might have inadvertently been offended,” he said in court on Friday.
Rev. Jesse Jackson joined Arbery’s parents in court on Monday, the activist’s name also a part of Gough’s attempted banning of Black pastors.
He said speaking at St. Paul CME Church over the weekend the case is not just a matter of ethnicity. He said suppose the inverse was true that three Black men were accused of murdering a white kid and a jury with only one white person was seated in front of a Black judge. Jackson said, imagine the outcome of that case.
Race has been a focal point in social media discussions of the case, and it hovered over elements of the trial as well, specifically characterization of the victim as a jogger versus someone running out of fear of arrest. After the court returned from a 15-minute break, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski brought the court’s attention to a motion she filed to prevent the defense from being able to pounce on testimony from regular people that might get at Arbery’s intent in the Satilla Shores neighborhood the day of his death.
The defense already parts from the prosecution on why Arbery was running in the community. Defense attorneys for the McMichaels and Bryan argued that the prosecution’s motion was irrelevant and that while it is logically true Arbery could be an avid jogger, it’s also possible that on some occasions when he’s running or jogging, he’s doing it for reasons other than physical and mental health.
Judge Timothy Walmsley took a short recess before continuing to discuss Dunikoski’s motion. Walmsley asked about the specific witnesses who would be testifying, and the prosecution detailed how witnesses planned to testify to seeing Arbery running in the area, even at night, which led to Walmsley sharing his concern that two witnesses testifying about Arbery running wouldn’t be something that needs rebutting. Walmsley did add that there is a risk of opening the door to the defense bringing up Arbery being on probation in response to testimony from Ms. Flowers, so the prosecution took a break to update the witness.
When the court proceeded, Gough tried to have Jackson banned from court and asked “how many pastors does the Arbery family have.” He said he doesn’t know who Rev. Jackson is pastoring here.
Gough said this is no different from police officers being present when a Black person is accused. “There is no reason for these prominent icons in the civil rights movement to be here,” the attorney said.
Walmsley responded: “Mr Gough, at this point I’m not exactly sure what you’re doing.” The judge said he’s already given his ruling on pastors being in the gallery and it has not changed.
Watch the trial live below: