Immediately after all three defendants were found guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery on Wednesday, Fox News contributor Ted Williams tore into the defense team’s “very offensive” actions throughout the emotional trial.
Attempting to build a case that their white clients were trying to enforce a citizen’s arrest on a supposedly dangerous criminal and were forced to kill the unarmed Arbery in self-defense, one attorney went so far as to traffic in racist tropes about the deceased Black man.
“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,” Laura Hoge, lawyer for Gregory McMichael, said this week to audible gasps from people in the courtroom.
Kevin Gough, attorney for William “Roddie” Bryan, sparked outrage and admonishment from the judge for complaining earlier this month that he didn’t “want any more Black pastors coming” into the courtroom during the trial.
Reacting to the verdict, which found Travis McMichael guilty of malice murder and Bryan and Gregory McMichael guilty of felony murder, Williams noted that the defense never proved that Arbery was burglarizing homes and instead relied on innuendo and inference to paint the 25-year-old as a criminal that deserved to be chased down.
“I’m a lawyer,” the Fox News legal analyst declared. “I can tell you I am very, very embarrassed by the manner in which several defense attorneys put on their case and it may very well have hurt them and their clients with the jury.”
He continued: “When you give a closing argument and you talk about a dead man’s dirty long, black toenails, that in and of itself is very offensive. When you stand up and you tell a judge that there are Black pastors in the room and that you don’t want them there, that also was very offensive!”
After reiterating that there was no evidence that Arbery had committed any crimes, noting that he was just a “Black kid jogging in the neighborhood,” Williams said “we also must look at the jury system” as there was only one Black juror on this trial.
“I know that there were a lot of people in the Black community that was deeply concerned as to whether a predominantly white jury in Georgia would convict two white men,” he exclaimed. “I’ve got to tell you, when you look at the way the defense play this case out, they consistently and kept trying to close on the sensitivity, there’s crime in your neighborhood. ‘Hey, Black people commit crimes.’ They pulled out every one of the racial insensitivities that they could without clearly using the word race.”
At the same time, Williams said the defense’s antics “went against them” in the trial while praising the jury filled with “fair-minded white people” for looking at the entire case and making “an independent decision.”
He concluded: “So what we as Americans should be proud of in this verdict, these verdicts, is that American citizens working together irrespective of this race thing, that they could come together and that they could make a decision based and predicated on the evidence that was presented to them.”