Could controversial comments by defense attorney in Arbery case be part of a bigger legal strategy?

The defense attorney for one of the three men charged in the death of Ahmaud Arbery is again being scrutinized for his concern that the presence of Black pastors in the courtroom could influence the jury.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – The defense attorney for one of the three men charged in the death of Ahmaud Arbery is again being scrutinized for his concern that the presence of Black pastors in the courtroom could influence the jury.

Attorney Kevin Gough, who represents William Bryan, apologized if he offended anyone after what he said last week. But on Tuesday, Gough pushed the same issue, filing a motion.

An attorney, not connected directly to the case, says Gough’s statements, his apology and the motion he entered Tuesday could be part of much bigger legal strategy.

“We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here or other Jesse Jackson, whoever was in here earlier this week, sitting with the victim’s family, trying to influence a jury in this case,” Gough said last Thursday.

At the Glynn County Courthouse on Tuesday, African American pastors were seen in larger numbers.

″We stand here to say that we refuse to allow our place and our role and responsibility as clergy to be demonically attacked by a defense attorney who utters words that are unthinkable and offensive,” said one faith leader.

Gough apologized for what he said.

“If my statements yesterday were overly broad, I will follow up with a more specific motion on Monday, putting that and those concerns in the proper context and my apologies to anyone who might have been inadvertently affected,” he said.

But he pressed the issue again Tuesday, only this time, he didn’t single out a specific race or nationality.

″This (Tuesday) morning, we did file a motion to prohibit any further conduct that may influence jurors that might interfere with a fair trial,” Gough said.

Attorney Gene Nichols, who is not associated with the case, points out that the motion Gough filed had already been rejected by the judge twice.

“The motion that he filed this morning had no real legal basis for it, nor did it request anything. And you saw the judge moved straight through it. What he is doing, in essence, is grandstanding,” Nichols said.

In a rare move at the start of the trial, Gough decided not to give his opening statements on behalf of Bryan. Investigators say Bryan recorded the cellphone video of Arbery’s death and assisted the McMichaels in chasing Arbery down.

Nichols says he won’t be surprised when the defense presents its case if Gough and his client will continue to try to separate themselves from the McMichaels, by putting all the blame all on the father and son.

Nichols says another one of Gough’s strategies could be to create enough turmoil leading to a mistrial. The judge on Tuesday completely ignored Gough when he announced that he’s filing a motion.

The defense is expected to present its case later this week after the state rested its case on Tuesday.


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Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.