Hundreds of people in Georgia were ordered to report for jury duty on Monday in what could be a lengthy, painstaking effort to find a jury at trial for three white men while they walk through their neighborhood. Ahmed Arbery was charged with fatal shooting.

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Graphic video of the shooting that killed a 25-year-old black man sparked outrage across the country. Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddy” Bryan have been charged with murder and other crimes in the death of Arbery outside the port city of Brunswick on February 23, 2020.

Jury selection can last two weeks or more. Arbery’s father said he is praying for an impartial panel and a fair trial, adding that even black crime victims have often been denied justice.


“It’s 2021, and it’s time for a change,” Marcus Arbery Sr. said in an interview. “We need to be treated equally and receive fair justice as human beings, because we have been treated unfairly for so long.”

Before the selection process begins, Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley plans to hold a morning hearing to address legal issues that must be resolved before the trial begins.

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Court officials in Glynn County mailed jury-duty notices to 1,000 people, anticipating a potentially slow process to find jurors in a community where homicides dominated news coverage and social media feeds.

The matter will also be closely watched outside Georgia. Arbery’s killing sparked outrage in the summer of 2020, during a period of national protest over racial injustice. It took more than two months for the McMichaels and Bryan to be charged and jailed, when video of the shooting leaked online and state investigators took over the case from local police.

Prosecutors say Arbery was only jogging when McMichaels armed himself with guns and chased him in a pickup truck. Bryan joins the chase in his truck and takes the now-infamous cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery three times at close range with a shotgun.

Defense lawyers insisted that the three men had committed no crime. Greg McMichael told police he followed Arbery, suspecting he was a burglar, after security cameras had previously filmed him entering a home under construction. He said that Travis McMichael fired his gun in self-defense when Arbery attacked, punched and tried to grab the weapon.

Investigators testified that they found no evidence of crimes by Arbery in the Satilla Shores subdivision. He was unarmed.

As a precaution against the coronavirus, 600 jury pool members were ordered to report to a gymnasium on Monday to provide space for social distancing. Glynn County Superior Court Clerk Ronald Adams said they would be called to the courthouse in groups of 20.

Along with their jury summons, pool members were sent a three-page questionnaire asking what they already knew about the case and which news outlets or social media platforms were their main sources of information.

The form also asks whether potential jurors have posted any online comments about Arbery’s murder and whether they have visited the shooting scene or conducted other research into the case themselves.

Lawyers for both sides will question the jury pool in the coming days, in groups and individually, to determine whether they have formed an opinion about the case that renders them unable to serve.

Ultimately, the judge requires a jury of 12, plus four alternative seats, to be on standby to fill any jurors who become ill or are dismissed before the trial ends.

Adams said that once the jury sits, the trial could take more than two weeks.