BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WSAV) – Proceedings in the trial over the killing of Ahmaud Arbery continued as normal on the federal holiday. Judge Timothy Walmsley said that’s because of the slow pace of the trial so far.
Judge Walmsley started court on Thursday by recognizing Veterans Day. Kevin Gough, attorney for William “Roddie” Bryan, renewed his objection on proceeding on a federal holiday, arguing it is unconstitutional.
“I’ve addressed that, we are here,” Walmsley said in response.
Jurors heard an hourslong deposition from Larry English, the owner of a home under construction in Satilla Shores neighborhood, where the McMichael’s accused Arbery of stealing from. On Wednesday, a neighbor testified they saw Arbery inside the home shortly before his killing.
English said he installed numerous security cameras around the home for safety. He said his concerns weren’t during the daytime, rather at night.
English recounted calling 911 to report a Black man in his home. He said he was “looking around, checking things out,” but didn’t seem to take anything.
English claimed after Arbery’s death, he faced harassment and wasn’t sure he’d be able to use the property again.
After the lunch break, Gough took issue with Rev. Al Sharpton sitting in the courtroom with Arbery’s parents on Wednesday.
“I believe that’s intimidating and it’s an attempt to pressure — could be consciously or unconsciously — an attempt to pressure or influence the jury,” Gough said. “Obviously, there’s only so many pastors they can have. And if their pastor is Al Sharpton right now, that’s fine, then that’s it. We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here.”
Walmsley said guests are allowed in the courtroom as long as they’re not disruptive to proceedings.
“I’ll tell you this, I’m not going to blanketly exclude members of the public from the courtroom,” Walmsley said. “I did not hear from anyone that there was any distraction whatsoever. In fact, what I just heard is nobody was even aware that he was in here.”
Sharpton responded to Gough’s comments on Thursday evening, saying his attendance is not disruptive in any way.
“The arrogant insensitivity of attorney Kevin Gough in asking a judge to bar me or any minister of the family’s choice underscores the disregard for the value of the human life lost and the grieving of a family in need spiritual and community support,” Sharpton said in a statement. “I respect the defense attorney doing his job but this is beyond defending your client, it is insulting the family of the victim.”
More civil rights activists joined in solidarity with the Arbery family on Thursday. Pastor Rev. William Barber traveled from North Carolina to show his support.
“What we have seen here with Ahmaud is not just murder, it’s an act of terrorism,” Barber said. “And America, the only way we’re gonna stop this is, America, you’re gonna have to come to understand that this kind of terrorism and murder is not just dangerous to Black people, it’s dangerous to the entire country.”
Barber said the Arbery family and their supporters won’t rest until justice comes.
“America, this is another checkpoint for you,” he said. “Get it right for this father. Get it right for this family.”
Court is set to resume with more testimony on Friday morning.