A request for a plea deal by one of the attorneys representing the defendants charged in the highly publicized killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia last year has been ‘flat out’ rejected by prosecutors.
This comes as the same attorney likened rallies taking place outside the Brunswick courthouse where the trial is being held to the ‘public lynching’ of the three defendants and said his client’s right to a fair trial is being violated by a ‘left woke mob,’ as a fourth attempt by the lawyer for a mistrial failed.
An attorney for William ‘Roddie’ Bryan – who admitted to chasing down and boxing in Arbery with his vehicle but not firing the fatal shots on February 23, 2020 – made the request Friday, the late victim’s lawyer Lee Merrit said.
‘He’s as culpable as the other two,’ the attorney, who specializes in cases relating to civil rights, said of Bryan and his co-defendants, Travis McMichael, 35 – who fired the shots that killed Arbery – and his father, Gregory McMichael, 65, who helped the other two run Arbery down.
Merritt told CBS News on Friday that he believes the request from defense attorneys indicates that Bryan is ‘concerned about the strength of the state’s case.’
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An attorney for William ‘Roddie’ Bryan (pictured) – who admitted to chasing down and boxing in Ahmaud Arbery with his vehicle but not firing the fatal shots on February 23, 2020 – made the request Friday, the late victim’s lawyer said, but it was rejected
The rejection comes the same day the defense attorney, who caused an outcry by saying black pastors should be barred from the trial, declared in court Friday that rallies supporting the slain black man’s family outside the Brunswick courthouse was comparable to a ‘public lynching’ of the three white defendants.
‘This case has been infected by things that have nothing to do with the guilt or innocence of these defendants,’ attorney Kevin Gough told the judge, arguing that civil rights activists are trying to influence the jury.
Gough renewed a request for a mistrial Friday, after the Rev. Al Sharpton, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Martin Luther King III led hundreds of pastors, the majority of them Black, in a rally at the steps of the Glynn County courthouse.
The event was organized after Gough last week objected to Sharpton sitting in the back row of the courtroom with Arbery´s parents.
‘This is what a public lynching looks like in the 21st century,’ Gough told the judge, saying his client’s right to a fair trial was being violated by a ‘left woke mob.’
Arbery, 25, was shot dead by Travis McMichael on February 23, 2020, while jogging through a rural Brunswick neighborhood
Rev. Al Sharpton announced the rallies after defense attorney Gough compounded onlookers’ frustrations over the contentious case when he said he didn’t want ‘any more black pastors’ sitting in the courtroom with Arbery’s family.
Gough made a third attempt to convince Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley to ban black pastors and civil rights activists – previously claiming they could intimidating for the 11 white jurors on the panel.
‘The court has already ruled on the motion at least twice,’ Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley said. ‘I’m looking in the gallery and I don’t even see the two individuals that, Mr. Gough, you have raised as issues and the court is not going to address this matter this morning.’
Hundreds of black pastors have since convened outside the Brunswick Superior courthouse – led by 80-year-old Rev. Jesse Jackson – in response to defense attorney Gough’s now-four-times failed bid to have them banned from the trial.
The civil rights activist was accompanied by Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones and father Marcus last week, and stood with them below the court building steps Thursday to address the hundreds outside in protest at the controversial bid.
Referring to Gough, Sharpton said: ‘He wanted to know why we’re there last week, I’m here this week… and we will keep coming until we get justice.
The rejection comes the same day the defense attorney, who caused an outcry by saying black pastors should be barred from the trial, declared in court Friday that rallies supporting Arbery’s family outside the Brunswick courthouse (pictured) was comparable to a ‘public lynching’ of the three white defendants
‘You’ve never seen a gathering of black pastors like this. When he insulted one, he insulted all of us. He didn’t just say enough of the civil rights leaders, he said no more black pastors. He called them black pastors. He didn’t even say can’t have white pastors.
‘Well if you thought one was enough, look at what you brought now.’
Sharpton and fellow activist the Rev. Jesse Jackson led the protest, organized specifically because of remarks by Gough who alleged the 11 white jurors on the panel of 12 could be intimidated by their presence. He even equated it to white people dressed as KFC founder Colonel Sanders intimidating black jurors if the roles were reversed.
The civil rights leader told the crowd: ‘I came to the trial to console them (the family) because you can’t imagine the pain of a mother who sit there and look at the killers of her son and their families and nobody is sitting there with her.
‘The pain of a father who wont get a call from his son any more. I did not come in the court room to protest, I came to pray that they would have the strength to stand up.
Travis McMichael (at left), 35 – who fired the shots that killed Arbery – and his father, Gregory McMichael (at right), 65, who helped chase Arbery down, are both charged with murder in the 2020 killing. The father and son were arrested about two months after Arbery died on charges of murder and aggravated assault, and were indicted in June 2020
William ‘Roddie’ Bryan filmed the encounter between Arbery and the McMichaels, and helped the father-son pair chase the 25-year-old jogger down a stretch of Georgia highway
‘Now, I do protest. But I came as a minister. And this man the next day defiled me for coming. And said, why was I there? That we must have an agenda. Yes, our agenda is that the God we serve will get straight to this woman and this man and this family.
During the trial, the defense argued that Travis McMichael shot Arbery three times in self-defense as the McMichaels and Bryan attempted to conduct a citizen’s arrest of young jogger, under their suspicion that he committed a burglary at a nearby property.
However, a Glynn County Police spokesperson later contradicted this sentiment, stating there had only been one burglary reported in the area more than seven weeks prior to the shooting.
Bryan’s attorney Kevin Gough, who unsuccessfully motioned for a mistrial for the fourth time Friday, likened the rallies taking place outside the Brunswick courthouse to a ‘public lynching’ of the three defendants and said his client’s right to a fair trial is being violated by a ‘left woke mob’
The defense further argued that the chasing of Arbery was justified under Georgia’s 19th-century citizen’s arrest law, which allows residents to detain another citizen if they suspect they committed a crime – which was repealed last year after outcry over the killing.
With that said, prosecutors alleged the three defendants wrongly assumed the worst of Arbery, and demonstrated ‘malice aforethought’ when they illegally chased the 25-year-old through the streets in pickup trucks and shot him when he was allegedly jogging through the rural neighborhood.
Arbery had nothing on him besides his running clothes and shoes on the day he was shot.
All three men have pleaded not guilty to murder and other counts, including federal-level hate crime charges, in the killing – and all three maintain that they were acting in self-defense.
The video of the shooting, taken by Bryan on his cellphone, was widely seen on the internet in the months after Arbery’s death, and subsequently caused a national uproar – leading to charges to eventually be brought against the Brunswick men in June 2020.
Officer-worn body camera footage presented in court last Monday showed Gregory McMichael, 65, (left) consoling his son, Travis McMichael (right), after the 35-year-old shot Ahmaud Arbery
Gregory McMichael (left) allegedly told police that he, his son (right) and their neighbor had Ahmaud Arbery (pictured on the pavement) ‘trapped like a rat,’ noting that the jogger ‘knew he wasn’t going to get away’
In the video recorded by Bryan, Arbery can be seen trying to wrestle a shotgun from Travis McMichael’s hands
After being shot three times by the younger McMichael, the video shows Arbery collapsing to the pavement. He died on the scene
The elder McMichael told jurors his decision to grab a gun and chase Arbery was driven by an encounter 12 days before, when he saw the black man ‘creeping in the shadows’ at night around a house under construction nearby.
He further stated he thought Arbery was armed at that time.
After the incident, Brunswick police said nothing was stolen from the unfinished property – with its owner later saying through his lawyer that Arbery probably stopped there to take a drink of water from a working faucet.
Lawyers for the three white men accused of murdering Arbery rested their case Thursday, but not before gunman Travis McMichael (pictured) told the jury that the black jogger did not speak, brandish a weapon or directly threaten him before the he shot him dead
And while defense lawyers attested the men were legally trying to stop Arbery under a now-repealed Georgia citizen’s arrest law, Travis McMichael, however, repeatedly contradicted this sentiment during the trial, saying he chased Arbery only to ask him questions and that he wrongly believed his father had called 911.
The defense rested its case Thursday. The judge told the jury they were free to go until Monday morning, when closing arguments are expected to begin.