Strange developments in the trial of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers

The trial of the three men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery keeps getting stranger. Last week, one of the defense attorneys asked that Reverend Al Sharpton be removed from the proceedings. Judge Wamsley looked at him like he was crazy and reminded him that trials are public events. New York Post reported that Kevin Gough, attorney for William “Roddie” Bryan, made the request when he found out that Sharpton had been sitting with the family.

Now, when did it become illegal or problematic for a pastor to comfort a family whose child was murdered? Gough had the nerve to say: “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.” What nerve. When we buried my sister, I hired a pastor to speak. Three others asked to speak because they know our family. Should I have told them, “Sorry. Only one pastor at a time?” Pastors are in the business of caring for grieving families.

Judge Wamsley called Gough’s statement “reprehensible,” according to Washington Post, and things only got worse for them as civil rights icon Jesse Jackson appeared. The defense attorneys claimed that Arbery’s mother crying, and the presence of Jackson would “unfairly sway the jurors,” and they promptly asked for a mistrial. Judge Wamsley again told the attorneys that he “would not bar respectful members of the public” even as he denied their mistrial request. Apparently, it is fine for them to strike virtually every potential black juror from this case, but it is not okay for civil rights leaders to attend a public trial. They should at least try not to sound so racist. They are already putting up an unbelievable claim of self-defense, which the defense claims the medical examiner supported with his testimony.

What Edmund Donoghue described was not self-defense but self-preservation. He testified that Arbery was shot in the wrist and torso at the same time, which the defense tried to portray as Arbery grabbing for McMichael’s gun. Under examination by the prosecutor, however, Donoghue said that the wounds were consistent with the victim pushing the gun away from himself. Think about how you might react if someone pointed a shotgun at your chest. You would very likely try to push it away, though the effort would prove futile, just as it did with Arbery.


The McMichaels’ attorneys claim that they were trying to “scare off Arbery” as he got close, but it is obvious that Arbery was not even initially aware that he was being hunted down like a dog as they drove up behind his retreating back. The notion that these men truly suspected Arbery of burglary but failed to report him to police is telling. In the 911 tape of Greg McMichael calling in, he said: “I’m out here in Satilla Shores, and there’s a Black male running down the street. That’s the emergency.” If they do not convict these men of a racially motivated murder, something is very wrong.

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