Judge in Georgia rejects a defense proposal for prosecution in the Ahmaud Arbery case

November 19 (Reuters) – A judge in Georgia on Friday rejected a claim for a trial in the Ahmaud Arbery murder case by a defense lawyer who claimed that black priests outside the courthouse were a “vigilant left mob” influencing the jury in the trial against three white men.

More than 200 pastors gathered Thursday outside the Glynn County Courthouse in coastal Brunswick, Georgia. Organizers said it was a response to defense attorney Kevin Gough’s previous comments that he “did not want more black priests” in the courtroom.

Several nationally known black priests and civil rights leaders, including Pastor Al Sharpton, Pastor Jesse Jackson and Martin Luther King III, have sat with Arbery’s family in the courtroom at various times.

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Gough’s client, William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, along with Greg McMichael, 65, a former police officer, and his son Travis McMichael, 35, are charged with the murder of the 25-year-old black man. Prosecutors say they were chasing and shooting Arbery to death as he took a jog Sunday afternoon, February 23, 2020.

The three men have all pleaded not guilty and have said they were trying to make a civil arrest of a man they thought was a burglar. They risk life in prison if convicted by a jury of 11 white people and a black man.

Gough showed court photos of the large gathering Thursday and said it was an unfair influence or perhaps intimidated the jury. “This is a lawsuit that has been infected by mob violence by an aroused left mob,” he said.

“This is what a public lynching looks like in the 21st century,” Gough said. “There’s a pressure on the jury.”

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski disproved that Gough, an “ingenious” and “calculating” lawyer, made a comment in the courtroom about black priests with the intent of provoking the assembly.

The closing arguments in the case are expected to begin on Monday.

(This story corrects for adding missing words “mob violence of” to quote in section six)

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Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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