The latest in the trial in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery

By Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner, Fernando Alfonso III and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 6:58 p.m. ET, November 18, 2021
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11:12 a.m. ET, November 18, 2021

Defense asks to remove juror for falling asleep

From CNN's Devon Sayers

(Pool)
(Pool)

As court resumed after a brief recess, the defense moved to remove juror 12 saying she was falling asleep.

The state objected saying they didn't notice.

Judge Timothy Walmsley said he was keeping an eye on her and decided not to remove her, but said he will inquire on if she's listening to testimony.

10:55 a.m. ET, November 18, 2021

Court is back in session after a quick break

Court is back in session after taking a quick break.

The cross-examination of Travis McMichael, one of the defendants, continues.

10:49 a.m. ET, November 18, 2021

A rally in support of the Arbery family is expected outside court today

More than 100 clergy members are expected to gather shortly at the Brunswick courthouse where the trial in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery is taking place.

The rally comes after defense attorney Kevin Gough asked the judge to remove the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton from the courtroom on Monday, alleging that the presence of Black pastors would influence the jury. 

“We are standing in solidarity of justice for our dear brother, Ahmaud Arbery,” said Rev. Alvin Herring, executive director of Faith in Action. “His life was not lived in vain and we are journeying to ensure that our support is seen and heard across the nation. This was a travesty, and his murderers must not go free.”

According to a news release, the group plans to hold a faith march and prayer circle.

10:41 a.m. ET, November 18, 2021

Defense attorneys raise more concerns with judge in Arbery murder trial

From CNN’s Devon M. Sayers and Alta Spells 

(Pool)
(Pool)

Ahead of Travis McMichael taking to the the stand in his own defense Thursday morning, defense attorneys raised several issues with the judge.

Here's what happened:

Kevin Gough, the attorney for William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., one of the co-defendants in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial, told the court his client will not testify in his own defense.

“Mr. Bryan has no intention of testifying at the trial of this case. If the state wants the testimony of Mr. Bryan, they can dismiss the indictment in this case against him with prejudice as to all counts, then there'd be something to talk about,” Gough said.  

Attorneys for Travis McMichael also asked the court to prevent the state from questioning Travis McMichael on a racial epithet that he allegedly used after Arbery was shot and killed. The epithet was disclosed by the case's lead GBI investigator during a preliminary hearing. 

“We don't believe it's proper to ask that question at this point. Given it's not, there is no admissible evidence of that epithet,” said Robert (Bob) Rubin, one of Travis McMichael’s attorneys.

Judge Timothy Walmsley said he would consider the cases provided by the attorneys and would provide a decision before Travis McMichael’s testimony concludes.  

In yet another attempt to keep Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson out of the courtroom, Gough filed a third motion to “prohibit any further conduct that may intimidate or influence jurors” on behalf of his client. To persuade the court to ban the pair, Gough shared a case from 1990, where Nation of Islam leader, Minister Louis Farrakhan was excluded from the public gallery of a trial. 

Walmsley denied the motion saying that he had already ruled on it and the court was not going to address the matter, noting that the two ministers were not in the courtroom at the time. 

Jackson entered the courtroom shortly before 10 a.m. ET sitting next to Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, according to a pool reporter in the courtroom.  

The state’s cross-examination of Travis McMichael continued after the discussion. 

In the overflow room at the courthouse, people in the room were wearing shirts with "I support Black pastors," a pool reporter inside the courthouse said.

A large rally and march in support of the Arbery family is expected later today. 

10:35 a.m. ET, November 18, 2021

Court is in a brief recess

The court is taking a quick break.

The prosecution is continuing its cross-examination of Travis McMichael today and will prosecutors will keep questioning him when court resumes.

McMichael, one of three men charged with murder in 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery's death, testified Wednesday he shot the Black jogger in self-defense, saying Arbery attacked him and grabbed his shotgun.

10:33 a.m. ET, November 18, 2021

Jesse Jackson is in the courtroom

The Rev. Jesse Jackson was seen in the courtroom as Travis McMichael testifies.

On Monday, Jackson said he has a "moral obligation" to be in court during the trial of three White men charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery. He said he will be present for the rest of the week and beyond.

"I am (standing) by people who are in need, backs against the wall," Jackson said. "It's what we do. So we are going to keep sitting with this family. It is a priority focus of ours now."

Jackson's remarks Monday came after defense attorney Kevin Gough attempted to have Jackson removed from court as the civil rights leader sat with Arbery's family. Gough insists that prominent Black pastors, such as Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton, who has also been at the trial, can influence the jury.

Last week, Gough asked the judge to ban Black pastors from court and later apologized for it.

10:07 a.m. ET, November 18, 2021

NOW: Defendant Travis McMichael is back on the stand

From CNN's Devon Sayers

(Pool)
(Pool)

Travis McMichael is back on the stand to continue cross-examination.

McMichael, one of three men charged with murder in 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery's death, testified Wednesday he shot the Black jogger in self-defense, saying Arbery attacked him and grabbed his shotgun.

9:05 a.m. ET, November 18, 2021

Defense begins second day of arguments in trial of killing of Ahmaud Arbery

Court is back in session for the second day of arguments from the defense.

Travis McMichael, one of three men charged with murder in 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery's death, testified Wednesday he shot the Black jogger in self-defense, saying Arbery attacked him and grabbed his shotgun.

McMichael is set to take the stand this morning to continue cross-examination.

10:20 a.m. ET, November 18, 2021

Attorney Ben Crump says Arbery's parents "need prayers"

From CNN’s Chris Boyette

(CNN)
(CNN)

Ben Crump, the attorney for Ahmaud Arbery's father, spoke to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday after the defense wrapped up their first day of arguments.

Crump said the self-defense argument made in testimony Wednesday by Travis McMichael – one of three men charged with murder in 25-year-old Arbery's death – is “asinine,” and that the trial has been very tough on Arbery’s parents.

“It's heart wrenching. That's why they need prayers, and they need the pastors' prayers for them, just so they can try to keep their sanity," Crump said.

"If this is was your child, how would you keep composure after you see these people lynch him, and then you see them offer this self-defense and people are actually taking this as if it's credible?” he continued. “…In the moments later, they actually killed their son and yet they're talking about self-defense. It is just asinine and an insult to our intelligence.” 

Crump said Arbery’s race led the defendants to prejudge him as a criminal.

“It is the worst nightmare of every parent, but especially parents of color who know that any Tom, Dick or Harry white man can shoot their child and claim self-defense and people start to believe it,” Crump said.

“If the roles were reversed and you had a black father and a black son go chasing an unarmed white man while he's jogging and kill him, nobody would accept that. Everybody would scream bloody murder and the judge and the legal system all will make sure that they were held to the full extent of the law and put under the jail,” he added. 

Some background: Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan Jr. are charged with malice and felony murder in the 2020 killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.

Arbery's family has said he was out for a jog when he was shot and killed. Defense attorneys contend the McMichaels, suspecting him of burglary, were trying to conduct a lawful citizen's arrest, and that Bryan cut him off and recorded video of the pursuit and shooting. The defense also contends Travis McMichael shot Arbery in self-defense as they wrestled over the former's shotgun.