Jury selection nears end in trial over Ahmaud Arbery’s death
BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — Attorneys prepared Wednesday to seat a jury for the trial of three white men who chased and killed Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old Black man whose slaying stunned people nationwide and roused such strong emotions at home that finding impartial jurors took more than two weeks.
A group of 65 potential jurors deemed by the judge to be fair-minded enough to serve returned to the Glynn County courthouse, where prosecutors and defense attorneys needed to narrow the pool down to a final jury of 12, plus four alternate jurors.
Court was delayed Wednesday morning by last-minute objections to a few jury pool members. The judge dismissed one of them — a woman who had posted TikTok dance videos in tribute to Arbery.
“We are going to try to pick a jury this morning,” Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley said.
The final process of elimination was expected to take longer than usual. The judge planned to bring the jury pool into court in three separate panels to allow for social distancing as a safeguard against coronavirus infections.
The judge said he hopes to begin the trial Thursday with opening statements from prosecutors and lawyers for the three defendants.
Arbery’s death on Feb. 23, 2020, became part of the broader reckoning on racial injustice in the criminal legal system after a string of fatal encounters between Black people and police — George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks, among others.
Greg McMichael and his adult son, Travis McMichael, armed themselves and pursued Arbery in a pickup truck after they spotted him running in their neighborhood. A neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan,” joined the chase in his own truck and took cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery three times with a shotgun.
No one was charged in Arbery’s death until more than two months later, when the video of the shooting leaked online. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case from local police and soon arrested all three men on charges of murder and other crimes.
Defense attorneys say the McMichaels and Bryan committed no crimes. They say Arbery had been recorded by security cameras inside a nearby house and they suspected him of stealing. Greg McMichael told police his son opened fire in in self-defense after Arbery attacked with his fists and grappled for Travis McMichael’s shotgun.
Investigators have said Arbery was unarmed and there’s no evidence he had stolen anything.
The slaying dominated news coverage and social media feeds in coastal Glynn County, home to 85,000 people south of Savannah. That caused court officials to take extraordinary steps in hopes of seating an impartial jury.
They mailed 1,000 jury duty notices, and nearly 200 people were questioned by the judge and attorneys at the courthouse during jury selection.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.