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Jury Selection Begins in Ahmaud Arbery Murder Case

Jury Selection Begins in Ahmaud Arbery Murder Case

The trial of three white men accused of pursuing and murdering Ahmaud Arbery in one of Georgia’s most notorious racial killings began on Monday with jury selection, a process the judge estimated could take at least two weeks.

Travis McMichael, his father Greg, and their friend William “Roddie” Bryan are accused of using a pickup truck to chase down Arbery, who was Black, as he went for a run in February 2020. Bryan allegedly joined the chase once he caught sight of the McMichaels, and he took cellphone footage of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery, 25, with a shotgun at close range. All three deny murder.

 

BRUNSWICK, GA – MAY 08: Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery at the Glynn County Courthouse on May 8, 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael were arrested the previous night and charged with murder. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Adding to the controversy surrounding the trial was the indictment last month of its original prosecutor, Jackie Johnson, who is accused of protecting the men because Greg McMichael was a former employee of Johnson’s. The suspects remained free for more than two months until the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case from the District Attorney’s office. The men were arrested in May 2020 and a grand jury returned murder indictments the following month.

Because the case has been so high profile–and because the men are well-known and liked among locals–jury selection will be key in how the case will be heard. Jury duty notices were mailed to 1,000 people in Glynn County, which averages about one in every 85 adult residents, in an attempt to build an unbiased jury of 12, plus four alternates, for the trial. Of the 1,000, 600 were required to show up at court on Monday, with the remainder on standby for a week’s time.

Prosecutors will eventually tell the jury that Arbery, who was unarmed, was spotted and targeted by the group as he was out for a run near his home in Brunswick. The McMichaels, they say, believed Arbery was responsible for theft from a construction site, and wanted revenge, even though there is no evidence he was involved in criminal activity.

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