Defense attorney Kevin Gough tries to get past a group of TV reporters as he arrives at court Friday morning.

Defense attorney Kevin Gough, representing one of the three men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery in February 2020, had another mistrial motion denied inside the courthouse Friday while shooting down rumors of a plea deal outside the courtroom.

Gough was asked about the possibility of a plea deal for his client, William “Roddie” Bryan, Friday as he entered the courthouse before attorneys from both sides convened outside the presence of the jury Friday to discuss what the judge’s instruction to the jury will be before deliberations begin.

Gough denied that there was any plea deal in the works for his client.

Bryan, along with Travis McMichael and Greg McMichael, are on trial for murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and other charges related to the shooting death of Arbery. The prosecution is arguing that Arbery was chased, trapped and murdered while out for a run on a public street, while the defense is claiming Travis McMichael shot Arbery in self-defense in the process of a citizen’s arrest.

Inside the courtroom, Gough again asked for a mistrial on the basis of a large gathering of pastors that was held Thursday outside the courthouse. Gough had argued in previous mistrial motions that the presence of famous civil rights leaders Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson in the courtroom could exert pressure on the jury to rule against the defense.

The issue exploded last week when Gough objected to Jackson’s presence in the courtroom Nov. 12, a day after Sharpton sat with the Arbery family in the courtroom.

“Obviously there’s only so many pastors they can have,” Gough said in court Nov. 12. “And if their pastor’s Al Sharpton right now that’s fine, but then that’s it. We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here ... sitting with the victim’s family, trying to influence the jurors in this case.”

The comment led to days of religious leaders gathering outside the courthouse this week to rally against what Gough said about Black pastors and to pray for peace and unity. The largest of those gatherings was Thursday when hundreds of religious leaders, including Sharpton and Jackson, gathered outside the courthouse to show their support for the Arbery family.

“This case has been infected by things that have nothing to do with the guilt or innocence of these defendants,” Gough told Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley of the Eastern Judicial Circuit on Friday.

Gough said the rallies were “what a public lynching looks like in the 21st century,” and decried a “left woke mob” violating his client’s rights to a fair trial.

Walmsley dismissed the motion and said he didn’t “recall any disruption of the courtroom itself” as it related to Thursday’s rally.

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, called Gough’s latest comments “ridiculous.”

With closing arguments set to begin Monday, prosecutors and defense attorneys spent Friday debating nuances of the legal instructions the judge plans to give to the jury before deliberations.

Much of the debate dealt with how the judge will describe the limitations on making a citizen’s arrest.

Defense attorneys say Georgia law authorized the McMichaels and Bryan to detain Arbery for police because they had valid reason to suspect he was a burglar. Prosecutors say there’s no evidence that Arbery had committed any crimes in the neighborhood.

Defense attorneys objected when the judge said he would instruct the jury that “a private citizen’s warrantless arrest must occur immediately after the perpetration of the offense, or in the case of a felony during escape.”

Robert Rubin, an attorney for Travis McMichael, said the proposed language would make it virtually impossible for a jury to find the defendants had probable cause to detain Arbery based on suspicion he’d committed prior burglaries in the same home under construction he was seen running from before his death.

“We have built this whole case around the probable cause ... that Travis McMichael and Greg McMichael had on Feb. 23 for events that happened previously,” Rubin said. “And you are gutting all of it.”

Travis McMichael testified this week that he had seen security camera videos of Arbery inside the unfinished home and that he spotted Arbery “creeping” outside of it 12 days before the shooting.

None of the five videos of Arbery inside the home show him stealing anything. The owner said he installed cameras after items were taken from a boat he kept in an open garage.

Walmsley said he would consider changes if attorneys could support them citing other cases.

The three men charged in Arbery’s death have remained in the Glynn County Detention Center since their arrest in May 2020.

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