GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. — A defense attorney in the trial of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery offered "my apologies" early Friday morning after fallout from his comments including the line, "We don't want any more Black pastors coming in here," a day prior.
Kevin Gough, the attorney for William "Roddie" Bryan, had asserted during a break on Thursday that figures, such as Al Sharpton, sitting with Arbery's family at the trial would be "political" and "intimidating" to the jury.
Gough said "we have all kinds of pastors in this town" and asserted the family should only have a limited number of representatives with them.
"The idea that we're gonna be serially bringing these people in to sit with the victim's family one after another, obviously there's only so many pastors they can have," he said. "And if their pastor is Al Sharpton right now, that's fine, but then that's it - we don't want any more Black pastors coming in here... Jesse Jackson, whoever was in here earlier this week sitting with the victim's family trying to influence the jury in this case."
That comment faced significant backlash on social media as well as one of Arbery family's advocates, civil rights attorney Ben Crump.
Crump, who worked on the George Floyd trial, tweeted 11Alive's clip of the moment on Friday morning and vowed to "bring 100 Black pastors to pray with the family next week."
He also issued a statement welcoming others who want to show their support to the family.
Gough, before proceedings resumed again on Friday, said he had "been asked to address some comments the other day."
"I will let the court know that if my statements yesterday were overly broad, I will follow up with a more specific motion on Monday putting those concerns into proper context, and my apologies to anyone who might have inadvertently been offended," Gough said.
Judge Timothy Walmsley was not receptive of Gough's argument on Thursday.
He cut Gough off as he presented a hypothetical scenario about people coming into the court "dressed like Colonel Sanders with white masks" by saying, "I don't need to hear that."
The judge then said he was told on Wednesday that Sharpton would sit with the family in lieu of one of the other family members, and he said that it was fine with him "as long as things are not disruptive and it's not a distraction to the jury or anything else going on in the courtroom."
He said if Sharpton's presence rose to violating any courtroom conduct rules he'd set forth, then he would have taken the matter up.
But, he noted, he never heard anything from anyone until Thursday.
"Nobody was aware he was even in here," Judge Walmsley stated. "If you weren't even aware of it 'til later, I'm not sure what we're doing."