Jury selection continues in trial for 3 men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery
This article originally appeared in News4JAX Article in November 2021
BRUNSWICK, Ga. – Jury selection continues Monday for the trial of the three men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery.
It’s been a long process, with 55 potential jurors qualified over the last two weeks for a pool of 64. That pool shrank to 54 Monday after one potential juror was lost today due to a conflict.
That pool of 64 will be used to whittle down the final 12 jurors and four alternates that will hear the case against the three men accused of killing Arbery.
Meanwhile outside the courtroom, chanting from Arbery supporters lessened but is expected to pick back up later this week if a jury is seated.
FULL COVERAGE: The Ahmaud Arbery Case | News4Jax is livestreaming jury selection, although audio is muted most of the time
At times, some people have skipped jury duty making that more challenging to find 64 potential jurors.
“Thank you for being here. You’ll notice some gaps in your numbers across all of you which means some people didn’t show up. We appreciate that you did,” one defense attorney said.
One potential juror was released from duty, citing child care problems. Others have made it very clear they have made a decision.
Jacksonville attorney Randy Reep, who’s not associated with the case, explains that the pool will be used to find a final jury.
“When we say juries are selected, we’re really deselecting those we don’t want on the jury,” Reep said. “You go around the room to the four parties. Is this juror acceptable? Yes, yes, yes, yes, that juror is in. Juror number 2 of that 64, no, that juror is out.”
Potential jurors can be excluded in peremptory challenges.
We look at some of the potential jurors who qualified so far.
Juror 209 says he went to high school with Arbery and believes the justice system is unfair to people of color.
“There is no way that juror is going to make it onto a defense attorney’s panel based on those facts,” Reep said. “The prosecution would love to have that juror for all the reasons that are obvious but there’s not a thing you can do to overcome the peremptory challenges.”
He said arguments can be made in the peremptory phase, like the Batson challenge where people are removed from the jury based solely on their race, which Reep says is illegal.
“I’m going to be able to say because he went to high school with Mr. Arbery, that’s a problem for me,” Reep said. “But the reality is for all the reasons that his social situation put him to be who he is, I don’t want him as my juror and some people could argue that is race-based.”
Reep responded to an attorney for Travis McMichael, who explains what they will try to convey in the courtroom during the trial.
“It’s a story of about the McMichaels trying to keep Mr. Arbery from coming closer to them while they are simply trying to watch and make observations,” said Jason Sheffield, attorney for Travis McMichael.
Reep had the following response.
“The only people that can explain that they were in fear for themselves are the defendants,” Reep said. “For that reason, I think that’s being telegraphed that it is very likely and unusual but very likely that you will see the defendants testify.”
Day 10 of jury selection began at 8:30 a.m. Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley announced that the court will meet for a full day on Tuesday despite it being election day. A mayoral race and a city council race on the ballot in Brunswick.
The court will also meet on Veterans Day — Nov. 11.
Opening arguments could begin as soon as Thursday