Saturday, June 25, 2022

Jury selection to start in trial over Ahmaud Arbery’s death

Hundreds of people were ordered to appear before the jury in Georgia on Monday. It could have been a long and painstaking attempt to find a jury to hear the trial of three white men accused of the fatal murder of Ahmaud Arbury as he fled their neighborhood.

The murder of a 25-year-old black man sparked a national outcry, fueled by graphic video of the shooting. Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddy” Brian are charged with murder and other crimes related to Arbury’s death. February 23, 2020, near the port city of Brunswick.

The selection of the jury could last two weeks or more. Arbury’s father said he was praying for an impartial commission and a fair trial, saying that justice was too often denied to victims of black crimes.

“This is 2021 and it’s time for a change,” Marcus Arbury Sr. said in an interview. “We need to be treated the same and get fair justice as human beings because we have been mistreated for so long.”

Prior to the start of the selection process, Supreme Court Justice Timothy Walmsley first planned to hold a morning hearing to address legal issues that needed to be resolved before the trial began.

Court officials in Glynn County sent out jury notices to 1,000 people by mail, expecting the process of finding juries in a community where murder prevailed in news coverage and overwhelmed social media channels could take a long time.

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This case will be closely followed outside Georgia as well. Arbury’s murder sparked outrage in the summer of 2020 during a period of national protests against racial injustice. It took more than two months before McMichels and Brian were indicted and jailed, only after video of the shooting leaked online and state investigators took over the case from local police.

Prosecutors say Arbury was just jogging when the McMichels armed themselves with guns and chased him in a pickup truck. Brian joined the chase in his truck and filmed the infamous mobile video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbury three times at close range with a shotgun.

Defense lawyers insist that the three men did not commit crimes. Greg McMichael told police that they pursued Arbury, suspecting he was a burglar, after CCTV cameras previously filmed him entering a nearby house under construction. He said that Travis McMichael fired a pistol in self-defense after Arbury attacked him, punched him and tried to grab the weapon.

Investigators confirmed that they found no evidence of Arbury’s crimes in the Satilla Shores unit. He was unarmed.

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As a precaution against the coronavirus, 600 jury members were ordered to report to the gym on Monday to make way for social distancing. According to Ronald Adams, Secretary of the Glynn County Supreme Court, they will be summoned to the courthouse in groups of 20.

Along with the challenge to the jury, a three-page questionnaire was sent to the pool members 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 if the would-be jury has posted any online comments about the Arbury murder and whether they have visited the shooting site or conducted other investigations into the case on their own.

Lawyers on both sides will spend the coming days interviewing jury members in groups and individually to determine if they have formed an opinion on a case that makes them unable to work.

Ultimately, the judge will need to place a 12-member jury plus four alternates on duty to replace any jurors who fall ill or were dismissed before the trial is over.

After the jury is in prison, the trial itself could take more than two weeks, Adams said.

Nation World News Desk
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