Defense lawyers in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial called for a mistrial because Arbery's mother cried in court

  • The defense team in the trial over Ahmaud Arbery's death once again called for a mistrial on Monday.

  • They argued that the jury could be swayed by Arbery's mother, who cried during court.

  • The judge denied the request, saying he needed to keep "balance" in the court.

Lawyers for William Bryan, Travis McMichael, and Greg McMichael — the trio accused of fatally shooting Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia last year — called for a mistrial on Monday, arguing that jurors could be swayed because Arbery's mother cried in court.

Judge Timothy Walmsley had adjourned the case after he heard "weeping in the back" during a witness' testimony.

But before the case could resume, defense attorney Kevin Gough called for a mistrial.

Defense lawyer Robert Rubin joined the motion, saying he noticed "several jurors" saw Arbery's mom sob. Rubin claimed the jurors expressed "sympathy."

"These types of moments ... favor the state," he said.

Franklin Hogue, a defense attorney for Greg McMichael, also backed the motion.

Gough, who had caused a stir last week after calling for "no more Black pastors" to be allowed into the courtroom, also again objected on Monday when he saw civil rights leader the Rev. Jessie Jackson in the court's gallery, asking "how many pastors does the Arbery family have?"

Gough said the presence of Black ministers would influence the members of the jury.

But Walmsley shut down the defense lawyer, saying he had already denied the motion for a mistrial the last time Gough requested one.

"At this point, I'm not exactly sure what you're doing," Walmsley said. "At this point, it's almost as if you're just trying to continue this for purposes other than just bringing it to the court's attention and I find that objectionable from the court's standpoint."

When Gough began to speak again, Walmsley interrupted: "I'm done talking about this."

In denying the mistrial request, Walmsley said steps are taken to ensure jurors are not influenced by anything happening outside the courthouse in the case.

"I will say that is directly in response, Mr. Gough, to statements you made which I find reprehensible," the judge said.

Walmsley said that the court has been "balancing a lot of things" to "respect members of the public's rights" to enter the courtroom.

"You need to understand that your words in this courtroom have an impact on a lot of what's going on," he said. "And so my measured response at this point is to balance all of that out and try to move forward with the trial."

Bryan and the McMichaels are facing felony charges of murder, aggravated assault, and false imprisonment in the shooting death of Arbery, who was killed in Glynn County, Georgia, in February 2020.

A mostly-white jury

The case is being tried in front of a mostly-white jury, save for one sole Black male juror. The racial makeup of the jury is at odds with the diversity of Glynn County, where about a quarter of the population is Black or African American.

Vanderbilt law professor Chris Slobogin told Insider that the racial make-up of the jury "doesn't look good" from an outside perspective. Julius Kim, a Wisconsin-based defense attorney, agreed, saying it makes him "nervous" that so few minorities made it onto the jury.

Legal experts told Insider's Ashley Collman earlier this month that the defense had an advantage over the prosecution in shaping the jury, since Walmsley alloted their side double the amount of peremptory challenges, which are ways of striking a potential juror.

When the prosecution complained that it seemed the defense was using their strikes to prevent more Black people from joining the jury, Walmsley agreed that there seemed to be "intentional discrimination." But the judge ultimately accepted the defense's reasons for striking each individual excused Black member of the jury pool.

Read the original article on Insider