“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,” Lauren Hogue told the panel, referring to a description from the autopsy report.
The comment prompted Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones to exclaim “Wow!” and exit the Glynn County courtroom in Georgia.
The statement drew swift backlash on social media. Attorney Areva Martin, who is not involved in the case, tweeted, “she made it personal and clearly intentionally trying to play on historical racial tropes.”
Another attorney, Qasim Rashid, also not connected to the case, wrote in a tweet, “Disgusting racism & bigotry.”
Travis McMichael, 35, his father Greg McMichael, 65, and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, are on trial for murder, aggravated assault and false imprisonment for the slaying of Arbery. The McMichaels, packing guns, pursued the 25-year-old unarmed Black man through Satilla Shores for five minutes in a pick up truck. Travis McMichael testified that they thought he had committed a burglary.
Hogue, one of the lawyers representing Greg McMichael, had tried to portray Arbery, 25, as s menacing criminal prowling around an under-construction house.
Arbery had been caught on surveillance footage in an unoccupied home on five occasions, but there is no evidence he ever stole anything.
Travis McMichael told jurors he only opened fire in self defense after Arbery attacked him and grabbed his shotgun. Bryan, who wasn’t armed, joined the chase in his truck and filmed part of the fatal encounter on his cellphone.
The jurors are expected to begin deliberations on Tuesday.
Reuters contributed to this report.