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Ahmaud Arbery's mom calls defense attorney's comment about son's appearance 'beyond rude'

"My son actually was running for his life in that description. I thought that was just, flat out just rude," Wanda Cooper-Jones said.

GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. — Ahmaud Arbery's mom said one of the comments a defense attorney made on Monday about her son's appearance was "beyond rude."

Laura Hogue, who is representing Gregory McMichael in the trial over Ahmaud Arbery's death, said during her closing arguments that the facts of the case presented don't resemble what prosecutors said happened on the day Arbery was killed in Feb. 2020.

"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 said.

11Alive's Hope Ford, who was in Brunswick on Monday, said Abery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, reacted to the defense attorney's statement. Arbery's mom could be heard saying "wow," and she left the courtroom shortly after.

Credit: AP
Greg McMichael's defense attorney Laura Hogue presents a closing argument to the jury during the trial of Travis McMichael, his father, Gregory McMichael, and William "Roddie" Bryan, at the Glynn County Courthouse, Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. The three men are charged with the February 2020 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

In a news conference outside when the court went into recess for the day, Cooper-Jones opened up about how that impacted her.

"She described Ahmaud as his long legs and his dirty long toe nails," she said. "That was just beyond rude. Regardless of what kind of toe nails he had, what size legs he had, that was still my son. And my son actually was running for his life in that description. I thought that was just, flat out just rude."

His father, Marcus Arbery, said it's hard to listen to the way the defense has characterized his son.

"It's really hurtful to his mom and me," he said. 

Prosecutors said the events of Feb. 23, 2020 were an "attack on Ahmaud Arbery" — initiated by father and son Greg and Travis McMichael, borne out of unjustified suspicions and assumptions about the 25-year-old Black man. They said he was jogging through the neighborhood when he was shot and killed.

Defense attorneys have argued it was an honest, sincere and lawful attempt to detain Arbery as a "suspect" in neighborhood thefts and break-ins. Defense attorneys have focused on Arbery allegedly being seen on videos entering onto the property of an unfinished home a number of times in the months leading up to his death. There is no evidence Arbery ever took anything or committed any damage at the home, and the owner had maintained before the trial he did not suspect Arbery of taking anything.

During closing arguments, Houge also said it's unknown if Arbery ever stole anything from the unfinished home.