• Lawyers have been slowly going through 1,000 potential jurors to try and find 16 impartial people for the highly-publicized case.
  • The jury selection takes place almost twenty months after Ahmaud Abery, a jogger in Brunswick, Georgia, was killed.
  • Travis McMichael (father) and Travis McMichael (son), were charged with murder along with their neighbor William Bryan (“Roddie”) Bryan. Bryan recorded the video.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – Race is emerging as a major theme of jury selection in the murder trial of the three white men charged in the death of 25-year-old Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery last year.

Lawyers have been slowly going through 1,000 potential jurors to try and find 16 impartial people for the highly publicized case. This is a tedious and slow process that could take as long as two weeks.

Though attorneys for the defendants have asserted the case is not about race, they continue to question would-be jurors on the subject.

Question: Are you a fan of the Confederate Flag?Support the Black Lives Matter movement. Is it your opinion that Black people are being unfairly treated within the criminal justice process? Are you a participant in racial justice protests?

“We don’t believe this is a case about race,” defense attorney Kevin Gough told the court Monday.

Multiple prospective jurors indicated that they believed race played a role in Arbery’s death. One told the court she believes the killing was a hate crime. 

A teacher said that “there is still racism today” Monday to a potential juror.

One prospective juror said to Arbery that Arbery would not have been killed if he were white.

She stated that she thinks, “I believe if it had been a white male running through the neighborhood I don’t think they would have targeted him as a suspect.” 

Jury selection comes almost 20 months after Arbery was shot while jogging Feb. 23, 2020, in Brunswick’s Satilla Shores neighborhood. Video of the incident was released two months later, sparking national outcry and propelling nationwide protests against the killing of Black Americans.

Travis McMichael (father) and Travis McMichael (son), along with William Bryan (neighbor), who were the ones recording the video, have been charged with murder.  

A vanity plate showing Georgia’s former state flag, which included the Confederate battle emblem, was on the front of the truck the McMichaels used to chase down Arbery.

Asked by attorneys, at least four jurors have indicated they consider the Confederate flag to be a “racist symbol.”

A prospective juror who looked Black told the court that he was a participant in demonstrations for racial justice. The jury was disqualified from him, as he stated that the defendants must be convicted of all charges.

Brandon Buskey of the American Civil Liberties Union said the defense’s questioning of potential jurors “only proves they recognize race is at the heart of this case.”

Buskey explained that “and the questions themselves are troubling.” Buskey said that the only question is whether jurors are able to fairly evaluate the evidence in accordance with the law. It is not the same as if they support the movement for race justice.

Buskey explained that the court should ensure the jury is representative of the county’s diversity, and incorporates Black voices. Brunswick, which is predominantly Black, is located in Glynn County, which is overwhelmingly white. None of the potential jurors have been identified by the court.

Attorneys have also questioned would-be jurors on whether they’ve seen the viral video and whether they have guns in their home. Many said that they already had strong opinions or knew some of the involved parties.

Brunswick, which is located about 70 miles north of Savannah, boasts just over 16,000 inhabitants, and Glynn County, nearly 80,000. Court officials mailed jury duty notices to 1,000 people – meaning 1 in every 80 Glynn County residents received a notice. Yesterday, a juror told court that his brother also had received a summons.

Four of the jurors Tuesday indicated that they could not be impartial. At least five indicated they knew some of the people involved in the case, including Gregory McMichael, Bryan, Arbery’s father, the current Brunswick district attorney and an attorney formerly assigned to the case.

“Everything that’s in the media to know, I’ve heard,” one prospective juror, a nurse, told the court Tuesday. Her husband and father in law had known the defendants “for many years,” she said.

Ahmaud Arbery:Georgia case over Arbery’s Death: Jury Selection Expected to Be Long

A juror stated that he had seen the footage of the incident only “a few times.”

“It’s hard to erase some of the video, but as a scientist, I can follow the facts,” he told the court.

When pressed by defense counsel, the juror stated that he didn’t know which way he was leaning.

When asked again, the juror replied: “Someone had been murdered.” That’s all I know.”

No jurors were seated by Tuesday afternoon. Timothy Walmsley, Superior Court Judge, expressed dissatisfaction at the slow pace of the proceedings and asked the parties for speed.

“We’re not looking great,” he said.

Source: USAToday.com

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