The latest in the trial in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes, Melissa Macaya and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 6:45 PM ET, Mon November 22, 2021
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4:48 p.m. ET, November 22, 2021

Defense teams finish their closing arguments in the trial of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery

From CNN's Devon M. Sayers and Alta Spells 

The defense teams of the three men accused of chasing and killing 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery have completed their closing arguments.  

Kevin Gough, William "Roddie" Bryan's attorney, was the last of the three attorneys to present his closing statements Monday afternoon. He spoke for nearly two hours, finishing shortly after 4:30 p.m. ET.

The court is in a short recess. The prosecution will have a chance to make remarks when the court reconvenes.

4:53 p.m. ET, November 22, 2021

Bryan's "trust" in police "was not rewarded," his defense attorney says

From CNN's Mike Hayes

Defense attorney Kevin Gough concluded his closing argument by asking the jury to send his client, William "Roddie" Bryan, "home."

He asked that the jury consider three questions when they deliberate the case: "When did Roddie Bryan know that the McMichaels brought guns? When did Roddie Bryan know that Travis McMichael would shoot Mr. Arbery? And at that point but, what could Roddie Bryan possibly have done to stop it?" 

Gough said that his client, who provided cell phone video of the shooting to the police, "put his faith" in law enforcement, but his "trust was not rewarded."

"Mr. Bryan put his faith in a Glynn County police department. And then he put his faith in the GBI [Georgia Bureau of Investigation]. He put his trust in law enforcement. He put his trust in our government to do the right thing by him. But his trust was not rewarded."

He asked the jury to return a verdict of not guilty on all counts for Bryan.

Gough was the final of three defense attorneys to make closing arguments in the case.

4:28 p.m. ET, November 22, 2021

Bryan's defense attorney says his client's "presence" was "superfluous...irrelevant" to Arbery's death

From CNN's Mike Hayes

Defense attorney Kevin Gough said, during his closing argument, that his client, William "Roddie" Bryan's "presence" during the killing of Ahmaud Arbery "is absolutely superfluous, and irrelevant to the tragedy." 

Gough argued that by the time Bryan came upon the scene, his codefendants, Travis and Gregory McMichael had "trapped" Arbery.

"Now, they do come down the road, and there is a time period before the shooting, or technically Mr. Bryan is behind Mr. Arbery. But it is clear, by this point, and certainly clear to Mr. Arbery that he cannot outrun the McMichaels. No matter where he goes, they can follow. So, again, how is Mr. Bryan's presence...in any meaningful way, a cause of this shooting?"

The defense attorney argued that the McMichaels "were certainly capable of catching up with [Arbery], and shooting him if that was their intention," without the presence of Bryan.

4:13 p.m. ET, November 22, 2021

Defense suggests William "Roddie" Bryan followed Arbery because of "divine providence"

From CNN's Mike Hayes

(Pool)
(Pool)

Defense attorney Kevin Gough played portions of the cell phone video that his client, William "Roddie" Bryan, captured of the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery during his closing statement Monday afternoon.

Bryan told the police that he followed Arbery in his truck and recorded the incident because he was trying to document what was going on. 

"He said that that is what he was trying to do," Gough noted during his closing.

But Gough continued by making the strange suggestion that Bryan continued pursuing Arbery because something was "guiding" him to do so.

"Maybe. And that is just me going out on a limb. I'm going to just suggest to you that perhaps, and I know that I'll get grief for this, I would submit to you that you can call it karma, you can call it faith, I would call it divine providence. Somebody is guiding Mr. Bryan, whether it is a conscious thought process or not. Something is guiding Mr. Bryan down the street to document what is going on," Gough said.

 

4:15 p.m. ET, November 22, 2021

Defense attorney says William "Roddie" Bryan was "armed only with a cell phone"

From CNN's Mike Hayes

Defense attorney Kevin Gough said during his closing argument, William "Roddie" Bryan "was armed only with a cellphone" and "he was a good distance away when the shots rang out."

Gough said that his client "did not cause or would not cause Mr. Arbery's death." 

Gough told the jury that they will have to decide what Travis McMichael, who shot and killed Arbery, "did or did not do." 

"But 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," he said.

Gough's closing argument is ongoing. He is the final of three defense attorneys to deliver closing remarks.

4:20 p.m. ET, November 22, 2021

Groups of demonstrators gather outside the courtroom "in solidarity" with Arbery's family

From CNN's Martin Savidge, Angela Barajas, Jade Gordon Alta Spells and Devon M. Sayers

Demonstrators, who described themselves as members of the New Black Panther Party and the Lion of Judah Armed Forces, told CNN that they are there exercising their Second Amendment rights. 
Demonstrators, who described themselves as members of the New Black Panther Party and the Lion of Judah Armed Forces, told CNN that they are there exercising their Second Amendment rights.  (CNN)

While attorneys presented their closing arguments inside the courtroom, several groups who said they were there to support Ahmaud Arbery's family gathered just outside the courthouse doors. 

Demonstrators, who described themselves as members of the New Black Panther Party and the Lion of Judah Armed Forces, told CNN that they are there exercising their Second Amendment rights. 

Some members of the crowd could be seen wearing body armor and carrying long guns. 

After the lunch break, defense attorney Kevin Gough motioned for a mistrial because of the situation outside the courthouse. The judge denied the motion. 

A spokesperson for the Glynn County Unified Command, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the event, estimated the number of protesters gathered outside the courthouse to be between 70 and 80 people, a much smaller crowd than the nearly 500 people who gathered for a prayer vigil organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton last week. 

“Nothing to suggest at this point that they will see anything other than peaceful protests,” the spokesperson said, adding, “We have plans in place if resources are needed.” 

As they departed the courthouse for lunch, members of the defense teams for all three defendants could be seen talking to some of the protesters with guns.  

A rally is expected later this afternoon around the perimeter of the courthouse, according to a spokesperson for the Lion of Judah Armed Forces who told CNN that they are in Brunswick “out of love” and “standing in solidarity” with the Arbery family. 

An art installation in the shape of a casket with the names of Black people who have been killed in incidents involving police violence was also placed outside the courthouse. Malik Barlow, a marketing consultant speaking for artist Darrell Kelley, said the casket is a "metaphor," and a way for the artist to exercise his First Amendment rights. 

4:23 p.m. ET, November 22, 2021

Defense attorney says that without William "Roddie" Bryan "there is no case"

From CNN's Mike Hayes

(Pool)
(Pool)

Defense attorney Kevin Gough opened his closing arguments by telling the jury that his client, William "Roddie" Bryan, did not know that the McMichaels were armed "until moments before Mr. Arbery's tragic death." 

"He did not know and could not know, that Arbery would be shot. By that time sadly, there was nothing that Roddie Bryan could do to prevent this tragedy. He didn't shoot anyone. At the time of the shooting, he was some distance back, he was armed only with his cellphone," Gough said.

He asked the jury, "Isn't it time, ladies gentlemen, that we send Roddie Bryan home?"

Gough said that Bryan fully cooperated with the police and provided his cell phone to investigators "multiple times."

"He's provided the now famous video that you've seen so many times and probably will again before it's done," Gough said.

"Ladies and gentlemen, without Roddie Bryan. There is no case," he said, adding, "the reason that you can have this trial is because of Roddie Bryan."

Gough's statement is ongoing.

 

3:08 p.m. ET, November 22, 2021

Defense continues with closing arguments

The defense attorney for William "Roddie" Bryan, Kevin Gough, is now giving his closing argument.

He is the last of the three defense attorneys to deliver closing remarks.

3:00 p.m. ET, November 22, 2021

Defense attorney for William Bryan files another motion for mistrial

From CNN’s Devon M. Sayers and Alta Spells 

(POOL)
(POOL)

Defense attorney Kevin Gough filed another motion for a mistrial, after seeing a group of protesters with "large weapons" and a coffin containing the name of the defendants on the back of truck.  

"I have co-counsel with a small child who was scared to death," Gough said as he made his argument. 

"This is no longer a figurative mob, it is a literal mob," the defense attorney said.

Since the trial began, Gough has motioned for at least five mistrials and has on several occasions asked the court to place restrictions on who is allowed in the public gallery of the courtroom. 

Judge Timothy Walmsley denied the motion for mistrial saying whatever is going on outside the courthouse has not been brought to his attention from a security perspective.