Defense Attorney Attempts to Set Client Apart from Codefendants during Closing Arguments in Ahmaud Arbery Murder Trial

Screen shot of the video from 2020

By Jake Romero

BRUNSWICK, GA — Defense attorney Kevin Gough, who represents Roddie Bryan, was the last of three defense counsels to give a closing argument Monday in Glynn County, Georgia—Bryan, and Travis and Gregory McMichael are charged with nine criminal counts related to the 2020 killing of Ahmaud Arbery.

Gough played and analyzed two videos for the jury which he claimed prove the innocence of his client. The first video, from Bryan’s home security cameras, showed Bryan walk into his home for his car keys, go back outside and get into his truck.

The defense said the video refutes claims that Bryan was “chasing” or “hunting” the victim because he exhibited no urgency and was armed “only with a cellphone.”

Later, the defense stated that no evidence—such as tire marks, neighbor complaints of yard damage or debris on Bryan’s truck—had been shown to support the charge of reckless driving.

Gough spent more time on the next video which Bryan recorded on his cellphone while driving and shows Arbery’s death.

Gough re-wound the video multiple times to emphasize quick sounds or images that would be easily missed. He said that a brief glimpse of Bryan’s shaky leg and the sounds of his labored breathing indicated his fear.

Bryan’s defense predicated its closing argument on three questions which Gough repeated throughout his speech: When does Bryan see the gun? When does Bryan know the McMichaels are armed? What could he have possibly done about it?

Gough played the cellphone video up to the point of Arbery’s death and asserted that Bryan had no idea that the McMichaels were armed and therefore should not be held responsible for the crime because he didn’t know it would happen.

Bryan did not shoot Arbery, but the prosecution has claimed there is a causal relationship between Bryan’s actions and Arbery’s death.

Gough said that Bryan’s presence on the road did not play a significant or necessary role in Arbery’s death because the McMichaels were perfectly capable of catching up with and shooting Arbery—“if that was their intention.”

Regarding the principle of intervening acts, Gough again asserted that Bryan did not do anything to stop the crime because he did not know a crime was about to be committed.

“By the time Mr. Bryan knows that the McMichaels are armed, it’s mere seconds before the shooting takes place,” Gough said, referring back to the video.

“The idea that Mr. Bryan’s going to get out of his car, or honk or yell ‘stop’—we know that that’s fantasy on the part of the state. What’s going to happen is going to happen at that point,” the defense counsel argued.

Concluding the argument, Gough asked that the jury return a verdict of not guilty on all counts against Bryan. He also asked that they pay no mind to any “cheap shots” or “‘gotcha’ moments” from the prosecution.

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski is set to deliver a final rebuttal Tuesday.

About The Author

Jake is a senior at UC Berkeley studying English & Journalism.

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