Posted on November 5, 2021

In the Trial Over Ahmaud Arbery’s Killing, a Nearly All-White Jury Is Selected

Richard Fausset and Giulia Heyward, New York Times, November 3, 2021

After a grueling process that lasted two and a half weeks, a jury was selected on Wednesday in the trial of the three white men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old Black man who was chased through a suburban Georgia neighborhood before being fatally shot by one of his pursuers in February 2020.

The jury, which is made up of residents from Glynn County, where more than a quarter of the population is Black, includes 11 white people and one Black person. Anxiety over what the jury’s racial makeup would be had been palpable among observers and participants in recent days.

Linda Dunikoski, a special prosecutor from the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office, tried on Wednesday to challenge the defense attorneys’ removal of eight Black potential jurors, citing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that makes it unconstitutional to strike people from a jury solely because of their race.

After reviewing the eliminations one by one, Judge Timothy R. Walmsley of Glynn County Superior Court acknowledged that “quite a few African American jurors were excused through peremptory strikes executed by the defense.”

“But that doesn’t mean,” he continued, “that the court has the authority to reseat, simply, again, because there’s this prima facie case.”

The judge ruled that for each of the eight stricken jurors, the defense had provided a “legitimate, nondiscriminatory, clear, reasonably specific and related reason” as to why the potential juror should not be seated.

Judge Walmsley said the court would consider a number of motions on Thursday, with the trial expected to begin on Friday morning. Opening statements by the two sides will offer the clearest look in months at how the murder case against the three defendants — Gregory McMichael, 65; his son Travis McMichael, 35; and their neighbor William Bryan, 52 — will unfold. Each faces up to life in prison for his role in Mr. Arbery’s slaying.

The men’s lawyers are expected to argue that their clients, who told the authorities that they suspected Mr. Arbery of a series of break-ins in their neighborhood, were carrying out a legal citizen’s arrest under a state statute that has since been largely repealed.


Lawyers have said the trial could last a month. {snip}


Ms. Dunikoski, the lead prosecutor, said in court that she was hoping for jurors who were a “blank slate.” But the killing was one of the most notorious in South Georgia in decades, and many prospective jurors — the court system sent out 1,000 jury notices — said they had already formed opinions about it.