Ahmaud Arbery death: Jury selection begins in trial of 3 White men accused of murder
Hundreds of people were sent orders to report for jury duty on October 18 in Glynn County, Georgia, ahead of what could be a very long and testing effort to find jurors to hear the trial of three White men who are charged with fatally shooting Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man, who was out for a run in their neighborhood in Georgia on February 23, 2020. The 25-year-old's death and the video of his shooting sent shockwaves across the country resulting in numerous protests where people came out on the streets demanding justice.
Father-son duo Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan have been charged with murder and hate crime in Arbery's death. His family members and community organized a rally outside the court and a ride in the neighborhood where Arbery was shot on October 16. About 100 people had attended the event where they highlighted changes in the law after Arbery was shot. Arbery's aunt Thea Brooks who pushed for policy changes after his death showed up wearing a shirt at the rally showing the changes in Georgia and the county including the establishment of hate crimes law in the state, abolishing citizens arrest protections, and the hiring of a Black chief of police in the county where Arbery was killed, according to NPR.
Jury selection in Ahmaud Arbery's case
According to recent reports, jury selection, in this case, could stretch over the two-week mark or more. Arbery's father Marcus Arbery Sr. said Black victims of crime have often been denied justice and it needs to change. "This is 2021, and it’s time for a change. We need to be treated equally and get fair justice as human beings because we’ve been treated wrong so long," he said. Court officials have sent jury notices to 1,000 people. The process to find jurors are expected to be slow in this case which took a new turn after the shooting video was leaked online and the state investigators took over the case from the local police.
Over 600 jury pool members were ordered to show up in court on October 18 to a gymnasium to keep up with social distancing regulations. They will then be summoned to the courthouse in groups of 20, according to Glynn County Superior Court clerk Ronald Adams. Members were also mailed a three-page questionnaire asking what they already knew about the case and what platforms they used as their main source of information about the case. The form also includes questions for jurors asking them if they ever made online comments about Arbery's killing and if they ever visited the crime scene or if they've done other research on their own.
Attorneys from both sides will question the jury pool, in groups and as individuals to determine if they've formed any opinions regarding the case which in turn will highlight their incapability of serving on the jury. A total of 12 jury members will be seated in front of the judge at the end with four alternatives on standby in case jurors fall sick or are dismissed before the trial ends. The trial could take more than two weeks after the jury is seated.
The defendants' attorneys claim they committed no crimes and that they pursued Arbery on suspicion of burglary after security cameras previously recorded him entering a nearby under-construction home. Greg said he fired in self-defense after Arbery charged at him, punched him, and tried to grab his weapon. Investigators have testified Arbery was unarmed and there was no evidence suggesting he committed a crime. Prosecutors say Arbery was jogging when the McMichaels armed themselves with guns and chased him in a pickup truck. Bryan was in his own truck and recorded the now-infamous cellphone video of Travis shooting Arbery three times at close range with a shotgun.