Unlike in the trial of Kenosha vigilante Kyle Rittenhouse, the Georgia judge overseeing the trial of three white men accused in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery ain’t picking up what the defense is putting down.
On Monday, the lawyers for Greg and Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan for the second time tried to make an issue of Black ministers sitting in the courtroom in support of the Arbery’s family. And again, according to the New York Times, Judge Timothy Walmsley shut it down when they asked for a mistrial on the grounds that the Rev. Jesse Jackson was sitting quietly in a corner.
From the Washington Post:
Lawyers for all three defendants in the case sought a mistrial after the judge briefly removed the jury when Arbery’s mother began to weep in the gallery. They argued that her emotional response could unfairly sway the jurors, and some took issue with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a Black civil rights icon, joining Arbery’s family in court.
Judge Timothy Walmsley reiterated that he would not bar respectful members of the public from the gallery and voiced his strongest criticism yet of defense attorney Kevin Gough’s statements.
“We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here,” Gough said last week, calling the presence of the Rev. Al Sharpton “intimidating” to the jury in a case seen by many as a test of the justice system’s fairness to Black Americans.
Just a reminder: the McMichaels and Bryan are on trial for chasing and killing an unarmed Black man who hadn’t committed any crimes. They even recorded what they did on a cell phone video and still weren’t arrested until months later after the video finally went public. It’s reasonable to expect that Arbery’s family would be supported by civil rights and religious leaders like Jackson, who said nothing as he sat in the courtroom on Monday, and the Rev. Al Sharpton, who did the same before defense attorneys went into a tirade last Friday.
Maybe the defendants here thought they’d get a judge more like Bruce Schroeder, the judge in charge of Rittenhouse’s trial for killing two people with an AR-15 after crossing state lines with a gun he was too young to legally carry to protect a business that belonged to someone he didn’t even know during a Black Lives Matter protest last summer. Schroeder has been hostile to prosecutors and even dismissed the easily provable charge that Rittenhouse was in illegal possession of the assault rifle he used because he was underaged.