Man who owns home under construction gives deposition in Arbery murder trial
BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WTOC) - Day five of testimony in the trial of three men charged in the death of Ahmaud Arbery includes an hours-long recording with one of the prosecution’s witnesses.
It’s all from Larry English who owned the house under construction in Satilla Shores that had surveillance cameras showing Arbery walk through the house on the day he was killed. English is not appearing in person due to health issues.
The deposition was recorded nearly two months ago, lasting more than three hours. But with breaks and sidebars, playing the video for the jury ended up taking up the entire day.
In that recording, jurors heard and saw attorneys asking English about his property, why he put surveillance cameras up around the unfinished house and the multiple instances where those cameras recorded people walking around the property, including Ahmaud Arbery the day he was killed.
English testified back in September that he put surveillance cameras up around the home he was working on because a neighbor said some kids were walking around the property. Concerned for the kids’ safety, and for his property, English said he wanted to keep an eye on it. When the cameras picked up motion, they started recording and sent an alert to his cell phone.
That happened several times over a few months, and captured images of kids around the house, a white man and woman at one point, as well as Ahmaud Arbery. English testified there had been several items stolen from the property, but he didn’t think Arbery was the culprit. Still, English shared clips of the video with neighbors in an effort to find out who was going there, video Greg McMichael saw.
Greg McMichael told an investigator the day of the shooting he thought he recognized Arbery from that surveillance video, prompting him and his son Travis to try to stop Arbery. An attorney with Arbery’s mother reacted to English’s deposition outside the courthouse.
“They said they had a hunch, they didn’t know he did anything wrong. They had a hunch. And a Black man was running down the road and they all got guns and hopped in their pickup truck. So your question goes directly to the issue of this case, which is why did everyone react differently to Ahmaud, to anyone else going about their business in the neighborhood,” said attorney Mark Maguire.
Last May we heard from English’s attorney who was attempting to distance English from the defendants in this case, saying he wanted people to know he had nothing to do with Arbery’s death.
“He wants people to know that he never would have done anything like this. He never would have wanted anything like this was developing. He never would have been a part it if he would have known,” said Elizabeth Graddy, attorney for Larry English.
Larry English testified during the pre-recorded deposition that he showed his neighbor Diego Perez a copy of the surveillance videos, including ones that showed Ahmaud Arbery on the construction site. He gave Perez permission to come onto his property and be a “neighborhood watch” for his property.
Travis McMichael’s defense attorney Bob Rubin used those words, and has said Mr. Perez is the one who shared the videos with other neighbors, including the McMichaels, so they could be on the lookout for those people on the property.
Prosecution also brought up Perez showing other neighbors the video in opening statements. Lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said 12 days before Arbery was shot, Travis spotted him at the house, called police, and he and Greg went to the house to confront Arbery. Police told Greg and Travis McMichael they had been in contact with English and that he believed the person just recorded on surveillance had not stolen anything from the property.
Greg McMichael told the cop “well, it’s at least criminal trespassing,” and the cop chimed in, “maybe loitering and prowling,” which are both misdemeanors.
The proceedings ended for the day and will pick back up with more testimony Friday morning.
Reverend Al Sharpton in the courtroom
When court came back from recess Thursday afternoon, Roddie Bryan’s attorney took issue with Reverend Al Sharpton’s presence in the gallery yesterday.
Reverend Sharpton has been active in the civil rights movement since the 1960′s and ran for President in 2004.
There was a tense exchange between Gough, the prosecutor and the judge Thursday afternoon.
“But, if we’re going to start a precedent, starting yesterday, where we’re going to bring in high-profile members of the African-American community into the courtroom to sit with the family during the trial in the presence of the jury, I believe that’s intimidating,” said Kevin Gough, attorney for William “Roddie” Bryan. “We don’t want any more black pastors in here, or other, Jesse Jackson, whoever was in here earlier this week, sitting with the victim’s family, trying to influence the jury in this case. And I’m not saying the State is even aware that Mr. Sharpton was in the courtroom, I certainly wasn’t aware of it, until last night.”
“It’s a public courtroom and I have no idea how the Reverend Al Sharpton appeared to be here. So, the State had no part in that whatsoever, so,” said lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski.
“I don’t hear a motion, and I will tell you this, I am not going to blanketly exclude members of the public from this courtroom,” said Judge Timothy Walmsley, Glynn County Superior Court. “In fact, what I just heard, is that nobody was even aware that he was in here.”
Judge Walmsley also pointed out that a barrier in the courtroom likely prevented jurors from even seeing Sharpton from the jury box.
Reverend Sharpton released the following written statement Thursday afternoon, following Gough’s statement in court:
“The arrogant insensitivity of attorney Kevin Gough in asking a judge to bar me or any minister of the family’s choice underscores the disregard for the value of the human life lost and the grieving of a family in need spiritual and community support.
My attendance yesterday and in the days to come is not disruptive in any way and was at the invitation of the family of Ahmaud Arbery who have stated that publicly.
The only way I could have been identified as a member of the ministry is if I was recognized for my public position and leadership. How else would the defense attorney know who was a “black pastor” or not?
This objection was clearly pointed at me and a disregard to the fact that a mother father sitting in a courtroom with 3 men that murdered their son do not deserve the right to have someone present to give spiritual strength to bear this pain. This is pouring salt into their wounds.
I respect the defense attorney doing his job but this is beyond defending your client, it is insulting the family of the victim.”
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