It’s proving difficult to find a jury in the trial for Ahmaud Arbery’s killing. Potential jurors either know the case well, know the defendants or are scared

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Hundreds have been summoned, and of the 60 who have been questioned since Monday, many said they had already formed strong opinions about the case, knew the defendants or were afraid to sit. They point to the possible consequences that specific judgments could have on the community.

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A potential juror said that while she doesn’t know much about the case, she has seen Facebook headlines and “I run with Ahmaud” bumper stickers across town. He expressed concern over how the matter was being polarized among the community.

“I think it would be nave to think that there can be no real-world consequences,” said the woman, adding that fear wouldn’t stop her from trying to weigh the matter fairly.

Arbery, a 25-year-old black man who was out for a walk in Brunswick, Georgia, was shot and killed on February 23, 2020. The McMichaels said they were making a civilian arrest at Arbery whom they suspected of theft, and that Travis McMichael shot him with a shotgun in self-defense.
Brian, who recorded the video, allegedly hit Arbery with his truck after joining the McMichaels in chasing Arbery. After the shooting, three men were allowed to leave the scene and were not arrested until video of the incident was made public more than two months later, sparking outrage and nationwide demonstrations against racial injustice.

“No one deserves to be shot, depending on the situation,” a prospective jury said during interrogation, adding that he had seen the video in the case and was terrified. “I am of the opinion that Ahmed was murdered.”

Asked whether he would consider the evidence presented in court, the man said he would if there was “valid evidence” and added that he would do his best to be fair and impartial.

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“But, I mean, based on the video, Ahmed was unarmed and the other two were not. It’s hard to show that it’s self-defense there,” he told prosecutors.

longer process than usual

Thursday’s nearly 12-hour day concluded the first week of jury selection after lawyers completed three 20-person panels. So far, 23 potential jurors have been accepted for continued consideration by state and defense attorneys.

Twelve jury members and four alternatives will be selected for the trial.

“It could happen in the next week,” Judge Timothy Walmsley, who had been disappointed by the slow pace of the review earlier in the week, told qualified potential jurors on Thursday. “Probably later in the week.”

Granthshala legal analyst Paige Pate said the time taken to select jurors is “very long” compared to cases that have not received the same amount of media attention.

“For a case it’s high profile, I’d say it’s on the long side,” Pate said. “The surprising thing is that … they were able to find only 23 (people) who were fair enough to only make it to stage number two. It’s unusual. It’s extremely unusual.”

Jason Sheffield, an attorney for Travis McMichael, told Granthshala that the defense has not asked for a change of location because they believe they will be able to find a fair and impartial jury, “despite global coverage of the case. “

“To ask for a change of venue, we have to find enough evidence that our jury pool is so tainted that we are not getting a fair and impartial jury,” he told Granthshala on Friday. “The way we get there is by questioning each individual juror, listening to their thoughts and opinions about the case, what they think they know and what they would be willing to consider and whether they are open-minded. will be able to keep.”

So far, Sheffield said defense lawyers are “pleased with the number of jurors who have done so.”

“We will continue to monitor the situation and we will make our daily assessments whether a change of venue is appropriate,” Sheffield said.

Granthshala has reached out to prosecutors for comment.

Pate, a Granthshala legal analyst, said he is not surprised that many potential jurors have heard about the case — not only because of the media coverage but how small the community is.

“I wonder how many people who already have a definite opinion that they are all [the defendants] Guilty,” Pate said.

A protester holds a sign at the Glynn County Courthouse as jury selection begins in the Arbery shooting death trial in Brunswick, Georgia, on October 18, 2021.

Many people knew Arbery or the defendant

In the small community troubled by the shooting, many people who are now being questioned as potential jurors at the trial say they know at least one person in the case.

Kevin Gough, an attorney for Brian, called the community of Brunswick – a suburb of the town where the shooting took place – Satilla Shores – a “fishbow” where everyone knows each other.

A potential juror said Brian looked familiar. Another said he knew a neighbor of the McMichaels who was among the first to arrive at the scene after the shooting. Another person said a family member was among the first responders sent for the shooting.

Timeline of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery and the case against the 3 people accused of his murder

One man, who said he met Travis McMichael at a hunting club and has known Brian for nearly two decades, said that even though he is not a close friend of either of them, knowing them was fair to him. It became difficult to serve as. juror

“Just someone knowing, yes, it will,” said the man.

Others are familiar with Arbery’s family, with Sheffield noting on the third day of jury selection that a potential juror appeared to give the Arbery family a thumbs up and a sign as they left the courtroom.

At least two dozen potential jurors also indicated to lawyers that they had negative feelings against the three men charged in the case.

When asked by one woman why she indicated negative feelings against Greg McMichael, she replied, “I don’t really know that person, but I have to admit that taking someone else’s life would be a serious crime for me.” Is.”

other people are afraid to sit

Other jurors who went through the selection process expressed concern about the possible repercussions if they were selected to serve on the panel set to deliver the verdict in the case.

A potential juror who was questioned said he believed it would be “hard to change my mind” as to whether the three men were guilty. [of Arbery’s death]. They fear that there will be only one verdict that has been accepted in today’s environment, and that if that decision is not reversed, some may threaten violence “again”.

“The jury is in a difficult position once it is called,” said the man.

Ever since the video of Arbery’s shooting surfaced, the fear of violent protests and outside agitators has been a recurring theme for Glynn County residents. While the community has seen several protests since then, they have all been peaceful.

While others did not specifically mention concerns over the effects on the community, they said they did not want to serve on the jury, with several lawyers reporting that they were nervous and some became emotional during the interrogation.

One potential juror said, “I don’t feel comfortable. I don’t like crowds and people and pressure.”


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