A defence attorney for one of the three men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery has been slammed for saying the victim had “dirty toenails” during the trial.
CNN legal analyst Laura Coates criticised Gregory McMichael’s lawyer, Laura Hogue, following her client’s conviction and described the attorney as being “in the gutter.”
Ms Hogue said after the guilty verdict that she was “floored” at the jury’s decision, which sparked a heated response from Ms Coates on air.
“Well, frankly I am not sure why she should be floored when she was in the gutter when it came to the comments about the hygiene of the victim,” said Coates on the news network.
“Imagine if you will, a lot of people did not want to talk about this in terms of race, and I have talked about it in terms of gender as potentially more palatable.
“What if we were talking about the clothing of a rape victim? We do not allow that in the courtroom as we know there is a line that aught to be drawn in the denigration and villainising and vilifying of people who have been harmed by criminals.
“For her to engage in that behaviour, really, was just egregious.”
During her closing argument Ms Hogue made her remark as part of a broader effort by the defence to paint Mr Arbery as a criminal.
“Turning Ahmaud Arbery into a victim after the choices that he made does not reflect the reality of what brought Ahmaud Arbery to Satilla Shores in his khaki shorts with no socks to cover his long, dirty toenails,” she said.
Mr Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, responded by standing to leave the courtroom. “I gotta get outta here,” she said on her way out.
Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael and their neighbour William “Roddie” Bryan were all found guilty on Wednesday of the felony murder of Mr Arbery on 23 February 2020.
The three men, who are white, chased the 25-year-old Black man through the Satilla Shores neighbourhood near Brunswick before Travis McMichael shot him dead.
Their defence attorneys asserted that the men were justified in pursuing Mr Arbery because they suspected he was responsible for a string of burglaries in the weeks prior, and in killing him because they claimed he tried to grab the gun.
McMichael, his son Travis, and Bryan, faced a total of nine state charges, including malice murder, felony murder, false imprisonment, aggravated assault with a 12-gauge shotgun, and aggravated assault with pickup trucks.
They had pleaded not guilty on all charges but the jury emphatically rejected their claims in delivering their verdict.
Travis McMichael, the man who shot Mr Arbery, was found guilty on all nine counts.
Gregory McMichael, who rode in the same truck as his son Travis, where the men were armed with a pistol and a shotgun, was found not guilty of malice murder, but guilty on all other counts.
Bryan, who joined the pursuit in his own truck and filmed the encounter on his phone, was found not guilty of malice murder and one count of felony murder, while being held guilty on three other counts of felony murder and three other charges.
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