• 23 potential jurors were admitted to the Ahmaud Abery murder trial during the first week. However, none of them have been officially seated.
  • Jury selection was supposed to be completed in two weeks. Judge Timothy Walmsley, however, has expressed dissatisfaction at the slow pace of questioning.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Jury selection resumes Monday in the murder trial of the three white men accused of killing 25-year-old Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery – a painstaking process complicated by the high-profile nature of the case and prospective jurors’ personal connection to it.

Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan are accused of killing Arbery after spotting him in their Brunswick neighborhood on Feb. 23, 2020. Bryan captured part of Arbery’s shooting on video, which was released two months later. It prompted national outrage and anger over the absence of arrests.

During four long days of questioning last week, many prospective jurors expressed strong beliefs about the defendants’ guilt and said the shooting was motivated by race. Others expressed concerns about remaining anonymous in the relatively small Georgia community where many know people involved in the case.

The court anticipated finding impartial jurors would be a lengthy and challenging process, but it could go on even longer than expected.

These are the facts about the trial.

Is the trial likely to last for at least two years?

Jury selection was scheduled to last two weeks, but Judge Timothy Walmsley has already expressed frustration about the slow pace of questioning.

“It could get into next week,” Walmsley told attorneys Thursday. Walmsley said that it could go into next week.

Linda Dunikosk, Cobb County Senior Assistant District Attorney, told potential jurors that the trial might continue through November 19.

Is jury selection moving along?

A summons was sent to approximately 1,000 Glynn County registered voters. The questionnaire included a three page survey. There will be 60 jurors eligible before it is reduced to 16 members. Twelve of them will act as jurors, and four will serve as alternates. 

About 80 people were questioned over four days last week. The court has identified 23 potential jurors eligible to move onto the next phase of the process, but the court still needs dozens more.

What role will race play in the trial?

Although the defense attorneys have stated that the case does not involve race, they are still questioning potential jurors about the topic. Numerous potential jurors indicated that they believed race played a role in Arbery’s death.

The trio are not facing state hate crimes charges because Georgia did not have hate crime legislation at the time, but they have been federally charged with violating Arbery’s civil rights.

Legal observers closely monitor the selection process for jurors to ensure that the population is accurately represented. Brunswick is located about 70 miles north of Savannah and is predominantly Black. It also sits within the Glynn Country, which is almost entirely white. 

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The case is well-known to jurors.

Nearly all of the prospective jurors this week have said they know the facts of the case,  have read documents posted online by the court and had seen video of the incident.

Many are familiar with Arbery and the potential witnesses as well. 

Knowing about the case or the people involved isn’t an automatic disqualifier, but the judge has dismissed several people who indicated they’ve formed opinions about the case that aren’t likely to change and could prevent them from rendering a fair verdict.

Attorney Ben Crump, left, and Marcus Arbery Sr., the father of Ahmaud Arbery, second from left, arrive at the Glynn County Courthouse as jury selection begins for the trial of the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery on October 18, 2021 in Brunswick, Georgia. Three white men are accused of chasing down and murdering Arbery in southeastern Georgia last year.

Jurors express concerns about privacy

Many prospective jurors have also told the court they’re concerned about remaining anonymous should they be selected to serve given the size of the community and intense public interest in the high-profile trial.

Brunswick is home to just over 16,000 residents. Glynn County is home to nearly 80,000 people.

One prospective juror stated to defense lawyers that any verdict, innocent or guilty, would be disapproval among some people. “Maybe I’d even feel unsafe, I don’t know.”

Travis McMichael, left, his father, Gregory McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. will stand trial for murder in the death of Ahmaud Arbery.

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Was the video a demonstration of?

The shooting was captured on film, but key moments remain missing.

In the short clip taken by Bryan, a white pickup truck blocks the view of the beginning of the struggle. A gunshot is heard, then Arbery and Travis McMichael are seen with their hands on a weapon that is angled upward, toward Arbery.

The struggle again goes out of view and Gregory McMichael is seen in the back of the truck. Another shot is taken and the camera switches back to Arbery’s fight.

Arbery drops to the ground after a third shot is fired.

Source: USAToday.com

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