Ahmaud Arbery’s Killers’ Counsel Laura Hogue Sparks Outrage With ‘Dirty Toenails’ Comment
Laura Hogue, one of the defense attorneys representing accused Ahmaud Arbery murderer Gregory McMichael, sparked widespread outrage on Monday when she made racially-charged comments about Arbery’s physical appearance during her closing statements.
McMichael is one of three men on trial for the February 23, 2020 slaying of Arbery, who was unarmed and out for a jog when the defendants surrounded him and shot him in the chest. McMichael and his co-defendants Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan maintain that they were making a citizen’s arrest and that they acted in self-defense when they shot Arbery as he tried to run away.
“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,” Hogue told the jury.
Gasps could be heard throughout the courtroom. Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, became extremely emotional and had to excuse herself from the gallery.
“Wow, I gotta get out of here,” she muttered as she barreled her way through the crowd.
Later that day, Cooper-Jones lambasted Hogue’s dehumanizing remarks about her deceased son in an interview with CNN’s John Berman.
“I thought it was very, very rude to talk about his long, dirty toenails and to totally neglect that my son had a huge hole in his chest when he was shot with that shotgun,” Cooper-Jones said, adding that she believed that the defense was attempting to compensate for lacking “the proper evidence to get a conviction. So they’re actually going to any measure to get it, to get a conviction, which is not there for them.”
Several veteran civil rights lawyers who spoke to CNN’s Pamela Brown were also caught off-guard by Hogue’s final pitch to the jury.
Charles Coleman Jr., a former prosecutor from Brooklyn, said that Hogue wanted to portray Arbery as a “runaway slave” and that “her word choice was intentional, her descriptions were unnecessary. And the description ultimately is inflammatory.”
Hogue was making an “attempt to sort of really trigger some of the racial tropes and stereotypes that may be deeply embedded in the psyche of some of the jurors,” Coleman added.