The attorney for William “Roddie” Bryan filed a motion for mistrial on Monday, arguing that the presence of protesters outside, some with “large weapons,” had tainted the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial.
Kevin Gough, the attorney for Bryan, 52, has made several such requests throughout the trial, and none have been granted. This time, however, he said the “figurative mob” had become a “literal mob,” complete with a fake coffin, reports 11Alive. CNN reports that the coffin is an “art installation” that bears names of black people killed in “incidents involving police violence.”
According to The Washington Post, Nasiy Nasir X, leader of the Lion of Judah Armed Forces, was also outside the courthouse armed with an AR-15. Nasir X said the justice system itself was on trial, and “the reason why it’s on trial is our beloved brother Ahmaud Arbery was shot dead in the streets, like he was an animal, by three White vigilantes.”
Judge Timothy Walmsley denied the motion, saying the people outside hadn’t been brought to his attention by security.
Bryan, along with father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael, has been charged with nine counts in the death of Arbery, including felony murder, aggravated assault, and false imprisonment, according to NPR. Gregory McMichael told police at the time that he and his son were pursuing a man they believed was a burglary suspect, and at some point, Bryan joined along.
Footage of Arbery’s death, recorded by Bryan, went viral in the months after Arbery was killed. The video shows the last few moments of the pursuit, and then the physical confrontation between Travis McMichael, who is holding a shotgun, and Arbery, who was fatally shot in the encounter.
During closing arguments, Gough made the case that Bryan was armed “only with a cell phone,” reports CNN.
“Roddie Bryan was not aware of any intention, and could not be a party to the crime of malice murder, because he can’t intentionally help commit a crime he doesn’t know is underway,” said Gough.
“Roddie Bryan’s presence is absolutely superfluous and irrelevant to the tragic death of Ahmaud Arbery,” said Gough.
Attorneys for the McMichael’s argued, during closing arguments, that they were pursuing Arbery to make a citizen’s arrest, believing him to be a burglary suspect. Prosecutors, on the other hand, say that on the day of the incident, the McMichaels never actually told police they were looking to perform a citizen’s arrest.
“All three of these defendants made assumptions about what was going on that day,” said lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski. “And they made their decision to attack Ahmaud Arbery in their driveways, because he was a Black man running down the street.”