“narrowing down the jury pool to 65 people, a panel of 12 people was chosen Wednesday — 11 white members and one Black member.
BRUNSWICK, GA — After two and a half weeks of jury qualifying, a final jury pool of 12 people was selected Wednesday night for the three white men accused of murder in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed Black man who was shot while jogging in a Glynn County neighborhood in February 2020 — and only one of the jurors is Black.
The jury, made up of residents of Glynn County, includes a panel of 12 people and four alternates, four of whom are men and 12 are women. One Black man is part of the final jury of 12, and the other 11 are white.
Gregory McMichael, 65, his son, Travis McMichael, 35, and William "Roddie" Bryan, 51, all stand accused of playing a part in the shooting death of the 25-year-old Arbery, who the trio encountered while he was jogging on Feb. 23, 2020. The shooting, which was captured on video, pushed Brunswick and Glynn County into the national spotlight.
Claiming they believed Arbery was trying to break into a home where he was jogging, the three men — who are all white — chased Arbery, a Black man, in pickup trucks and cornered him in a Brunswick neighborhood before shooting him, prosecutors said. Gregory McMichael, a former police officer, invoked Georgia's Civil War-era citizen's arrest law.
Earlier this year, Georgia lawmakers rewrote the citizen's arrest law at the behest of Gov. Brian Kemp, outlawing the type of vigilante reprisal that prosecutors have said was involved in Arbery's death.
Cobb County Assistant District Attorney Linda Dunikoski, who's prosecuting the case, accused defense attorneys of using their allotted strikes to disproportionately eliminate prospective Black jurors from the qualified panel, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
But defense attorneys refuted those allegations, claiming the jurors were dismissed not because of their race, but because of their attitudes toward the men charged with murder and their responses to questions during jury selection, according to the AJC. They said they also struck 13 white people from the final jury pool for expressing bias against the defendants.
Judge Timothy Walmsley acknowledged that "quite a few African American jurors were excused through peremptory strikes executed by the defense," the New York Times reported, but allowed the trial to move forward, despite the prosecution's motion to have the stricken Black members reseated in the pool of qualified people.
However, Walmsley agreed that there "appears to be intentional discrimination," according to CNN.
"One of the challenges that I think counsel recognized in this case is the racial overtones in the case. ... This is sort of the continuation of a conversation that I think will continue for a long time, with respect to this case," Walmsley said Wednesday.
The judge ruled that for each of the eight Black jurors dismissed from the case, the defense had to provide "legitimate, nondiscriminatory, clear, reasonably specific and related reason" as to why they should not be chosen, and the defense met that requirement.
The court will consider a series of motions Thursday, with the trial expected to begin Friday. Lawyers have said the trial could last a month.”