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Media Interviews Could Come Back to Haunt New Murder Defendant in Ahmaud Arbery Case


Were William “Roddie” Bryan‘s media appearances a good idea? The Georgia man was arrested Thursday for felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. Officials said he tried to use his vehicle to detain Ahmaud Arbery minutes leading up to the victim’s shooting death. Attorney Kevin Gough and Bryan had been asserting the defendant’s innocence even before charges, including during a contentious appearance on CNN.

Law&Crime Network Host Jesse Weber asked legal analyst Terri Austin, an attorney who is not affiliated with the case, about whether the defense should’ve done a lie detector test and gone on CNN.

“I think he should have not done that,” said Austin. “I think both the defendant and the attorney should’ve just tried the case in the courtroom when they get there, and not in the public.” She argued that the intention of talking was to make it seem like Bryan was a bystander. “And the attorney himself did make it look as though his client was not that bright. And so I think all in all, it didn’t do well for both of them to go on in the public, and it hurt the case. And now you see we have an arrest.”

Gough’s law firm did not immediately response to a Law&Crime request for comment.

Arbery was killed in a February 23 confrontation with father and son duo Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34. The elder McMichael allegedly told cops that they suspected Arbery of being the suspect in recent break-ins. The alleged victim’s family has said he was jogging. The case landed on a cultural fissure:  the alleged victim was black, and the McMichaels are white.

Arrests didn’t happen until months later, after video taken by Bryan had been leaked. Attorney Alan Tucker said this was done with help of Gregory McMichael, who wanted to get the “truth” out to the public. That release backfired. The video fueled public outcry. Attorneys for Arbery’s family said footage showed that the victim was murdered. The McMichaels were arrested, and their attorneys maintain their innocence. Scrutiny then focused on Bryan, who allegedly helped confront Arbery.

Bryan appeared with Gough last week on CNN. From pretty much the get-go, the attorney cut off “substantive questions” addressed to his client by host Christopher Cuomo.

“You’ve been a prosecutor and you can imagine this prosecutor that’s been in this case 24 hours, going to start throwing stuff around her living room if you start doing her job for her. Okay. Because as good as you are, she’d probably rather do it herself. You know what we can talk about without causing problems for anybody, and I know you’re trying, but this man cannot be answering substantive questions about the case.”

Gough maintained that his client was just a witness to the shooting, and he had no relationship with the McMichaels. He did indeed comment on his client’s level of education.

“With all due respect, I’m not afraid of you, but I respect you,” Gough told Cuomo. “You are a brilliant, very capable lawyer, and you are a very good prosecutor, and my client is a mechanic with a high school education and if you’ve ever been to the high schools around here, that’s not necessarily saying much.”

[Screengrab via CNN]

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