Defense lawyer Kevin Gough, who was found guilty on Wednesday of murdering Ahmed Arberry, told LBL that he would appeal a new trial for his client William “Roddy” Bryan next week.
Bryan was found guilty of six of the nine counts he faces in Glynn County, Georgia: three felony murders, one aggravated assault count, one false imprisonment and one felony attempted count.
He followed Arbery, a 25-year-old black man with father and son Travis and Georgia McMichael, after seeing him running into the neighborhood in February 2020.
Brian drove in his own pickup truck and recorded the video on the cell phone of the fatal encounter, which shows Travis McMichael killing Arbori with a shotgun and throwing punches and trying to grab a gun.
Defense attorneys argued at trial that the three men were trying to arrest Arberry because he thought he was a thief, but the prosecution contested that there was no evidence that Arberry committed any crimes.
Travis McMichael was found guilty on all nine charges, while Gregory McMichael was found guilty on all counts of malicious murder.
Ahmed Arberry Trial verdict: Travis McMichael found guilty in all cases
Kevin Goff was a controversial figure during the 13-day trial, filing several motions for a mistrial that was struck down by Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley.
He told the judge on Nov. 11 that Al Sharpton did not want “any black clergy” in court after sitting down with Arberry’s family, saying his presence could threaten his client’s right to a fair trial.
“Obviously there are only so many pastors they can have,” Goff told the judge. “And it’s fine if it’s Al Sharpton, their pastor now, but that’s all.”
Goff tried to get his client to testify at the trial to Chief Investigator Richard Dial, “Is there anyone consistent with the testimony?”
“He was not a witness,” answered Georgia Bureau of Investigation Agent Dial. “It is consistent that he is still following Mr. Arberry, trying to box him between two different vehicles.”
Ahmed Arberry supporters rejoice but say ‘there is a lot of work’ after the verdict
Gough asked late in the trial to try and separate his client’s case, but pushed back the defense effort and did not deliver.
Nima Rahmani, A former federal prosecutor and president of the West Coast Trial Lawyers, said any motions for a new trial could be unsuccessful, but the argument that Bryan’s case had to be separated from McMichael’s may have been his best shot.
“They are going to file their appeals. Criminal charges always do, but this was a pretty clean case in my book,” Rahmani told LBL Digital.
“What you need as a criminal defense attorney, especially when you represent a defendant who is arguably less guilty and Brian is arguably less guilty, is to separate him or her from the other accused because it is arguably prejudiced. Travis McMichael or Gregory, who pulled the trigger – I’m going to blow my head, ‘said Rahmani. “The detachment is the best.”
Brian and McMichaels are facing federal hate crime charges in a separate case from state murder charges Wednesday. The jury selection in the federal case is set to begin in February.
“To the next level, obviously federal hate crime charges. Even if you succeeded on appeal, lucky man, now you are dealing with the Feds and the US Attorney’s Office and the DOJ,” Rahmani said. “That’s the whole problem for them.”
Claudia Kelly-Bazan of LBL contributed to this report, as well as The Associated Press.