Defense attorneys for Gregory and Travis McMichael, who are accused of murdering Arbery, have repeatedly tried to make Arbery a criminal. On Monday, Laura Hogue, one of Gregory McMichael’s attorneys, went further.
“The victimization of Ahmaud Arbery after the choices he made does not reflect the reality of what brought Ahmaud Arbery to Satilla Shores in khaki shorts with no socks to cover his long and dirty toenails. me,” Hogue told the jury.
Arbery is black. The three defendants, who also include William “Roddie” Bryan, are white and face charges including malice and felony murder in the Arbery murder after chasing him in a neighborhood near Brunswick , Georgia, on February 23, 2020. They pleaded not guilty.
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, got up and left the courtroom after Hogue’s remarks, saying, “I have to get out of here.”
Late Monday, she told CNN the comment was disturbing.
‘I think it’s incredibly rude to talk about his long, dirty toenails and completely didn’t notice that my son had a huge hole in his chest when he was shot with that shotgun,’ she said. .
The defense is just trying to avoid the fact that they “do not have the appropriate evidence to convict,” Cooper-Jones said.
“So they’re really going to use whatever means to get it, to get conviction, which they don’t have there,” she said.
Legal expert says comment used racist jokes
Legal experts made an exception to Hogues’ comment.
In that moment, Hogue took the opportunity to describe Arbery as a “runaway slave,” said Charles Coleman Jr., a civil rights attorney and former prosecutor.
Coleman told CNN: “Her choice of words is intentional, her descriptions are unnecessary.
“It’s an attempt to really trigger some of the races and prejudices that might be ingrained in the psyche of some jurors,” Coleman said.
Glynn County, where the trial is being held, has 69% White and 27% Black residents. Only one out of 12 jurors is black.
“It’s disrespectful, it’s appalling, and Attorney Hogue should be ashamed of herself, having to put her feet up in the middle of the trial. What’s wrong with you?”, civil rights attorney L. Chris Stewart said ,
“Not only is it disrespectful to Ahmaud, but you know his mother is right there. That’s horrible,” Stewart said.
Hogue’s comments appear to be based on an autopsy of Arbery’s body by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s forensic science division, which stated that “toenails are long and very dirty.”
Former prosecutor Mark Eiglarsh said that Hogue caught the pulse of the jury.
“I found the defense attorney’s comment, personally, extremely offensive,” Eiglarch said. “That said, I will defend her rights, because it’s her job to do everything she can to get acquitted, as long as it’s within the bounds of what the law allows.”
“It was outrageous and insulting to me personally, I know she wouldn’t have made it if she didn’t think it would resonate with those particular jurors,” Eiglarsh said. “And that’s what she did.”
Monday’s closing statement by defense attorneys followed 10 days of proceedings and the testimony of 23 witnesses.
On Tuesday, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski will issue a rebuttal.