Jurors have been selected for the upcoming Georgia murder trial in connection with the death of Ahmaud Arbery, despite protests from the prosecution.
Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley ruled this week that the 11 White jurors and 1 Black juror will take seats as jurors for the trial of three men accused of murdering 25-year-old Arbery. Walmsley said Wednesday that “intentional discrimination” from the lawyers of the suspects may have caused the outcome of the jury selection and he now cannot intervene, due to Georgia law.
According to Fox News, a heated debate happened on the last day of jury selection after lawyers for both the prosecution and defense finished their jury selection process. Prosecutor Linda Dunikosk argued that only one Black person made it onto the jury, claiming it had to do with race.
The defense argued that other potential jurors were removed for valid reasons that didn’t have anything to do with race.
“I can give you a race-neutral reason for any one of these,” defense lawyer Laura Hogue said, adding that the other Black jurors were dismissed following their answers given when questioned about the case.
Walmsley said that “there appears to be intentional discrimination in the panel,” but had limited power to change the jury at this point.
“They have been able to explain to the court why besides race those individuals were struck from the panel,” Walmsley said.
The jury and four alternates are scheduled to be sworn in on Friday when opening statements on the case begin.
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said she was devastated that only one Black person will be on the jury, but thinks that the evidence will speak for itself regardless.
“I’m very confident that they’ll make the right decision after seeing all the evidence,” she said
As CrimeOnline previously reported, in June 2020, Judge Wallace E. Harrell of Glynn County Magistrate Court ruled that enough probable cause exists to uphold murder charges against father and son, Greg and Travis McMichael, as well as their friend, William “Roddie” Bryan Jr.
Video recorded by Bryan in February 2020 allegedly showed the McMichaels chasing Arbery for several minutes around the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick, while in their truck, before blocking him in. The McMichaels suspected that Arbery was responsible for a string of break-ins in the neighborhood, although they had no proof of their claims.
Bryan, who also pursued Arbery in his vehicle, blocked Arbery with his truck from behind as the McMichaels circled around the blocked and stopped in front of the victim, court documents state.
Travis McMichael then got out of his truck, armed with a shotgun. A scuffle broke out and Travis McMichael ended up shooting Arbery three times.
Arbery, unarmed, died at the scene.
During a preliminary court hearing last summer, Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Richard Dial provided testimony that provided a glimpse into the suspects’ alleged racist views. Key points of Dial’s testimony include:
- Neighbors told authorities that they had seen Arbery jogging several times previously in the neighborhood, and often waved and spoke to him.
- Social media messages sent by Bryan indicated that he used the n-word to describe black people.
- Travis McMichael admitted he shot Arbery three times during the heat of the moment and that his adrenaline was pumping.
- Bryan told police he heard Travis McMichael yell “fu***** n*****” after shooting Arbery and while standing over his body.
- The McMichaels never called 911 before pursuing him.
- Arbery ran in a ditch to avoid the suspects, but when he emerged and tried to leave the neighborhood, the suspects wouldn’t let him.
- Bryan hit Arbery with his truck when Arbery tried to exit the neighborhood.
- Bryan waited until after the McMichaels’ arrests before he admitted to hearing the racial slur. He never mentioned it previously.
- Travis McMichael used racial epitaphs numerous times over text messages and social media. He allegedly said he wished someone would “blow that fu***** n****** head off.”
- In another instance, Travis McMichael, who was in the U.S. Coast Guard, said he loved his job because “was on a boat and there weren’t any N-words anywhere.”
Defense lawyers for the suspects argued that murder charges should be dropped. Franklin Hogue, a lawyer for Gregory McMichael, said that his client had a valid reason to believe Arbery committed a crime. McMichael, however, previously admitted that he wasn’t sure if Arbery had been responsible for recent break-ins in the neighborhood, but had a “gut feeling.”
Travis McMichael’s lawyer, Jason Sheffield, argued that his client was defending himself during a scuffle with Arbery.
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[Feature Photo: Ahmaud Arbery/Handout]