For Ahmaud, Arbery’s trial in Georgia, hundreds of people were summoned to report to jury duty Monday. It could take a long and laborious process to find jurors.
The murder of the Black 25-year old man sparked national outrage. Travis McMichael, Travis McMichael, and William Bryan, their neighbor are accused of murder and other offenses in Arbery’s death on February 23, 2020 just outside Brunswick.
Jury selection can take up to two weeks. Arbery’s father stated that he prays for an impartial jury and fair trial because Black crime victims are too often denied justice.
Marcus Arbery Sr. stated in an interview that “This is 2021 and it’s now time for a shift.” We’ve been wrongly treated so many times that we need to be treated fairly and equally.
Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley planned a morning hearing before the selection process began to address legal issues before the trial begins.
Glynn County court officials sent jury-duty notices out to 1,000 people. They were expecting a slow process to find jurors in an area where the killings dominated media coverage and social media feeds.
This case will also be closely monitored outside of Georgia. Arbery’s murder sparked outrage during the period of national protests against racial injustice in 2020. Bryan and McMichaels were arrested and sentenced after Bryan’s video of the shooting was leaked online. Bryan and McMichaels had been in jail for more than two months.
Prosecutors claim that Arbery was only jogging at the time when McMichaels set up guns and pursued him in a pickup truck. Bryan joined the chase in his truck and captured the now-famous cellphone video of Travis McMichael firing three shots at Arbery from close range using a shotgun.
Defense attorneys claim the men did not commit any crimes. Greg McMichael said that they pursued Arbery because he believed he was a burglar. Security cameras had previously captured him entering a nearby house. Travis McMichael claimed that he fired his gun in self defense after Arbery attacked and tried to grab the weapon.
Investigators testified that there was no evidence of Arbery crimes in Satilla Shores subdivision. He was not armed.
600 jury pool members were asked to report to the gymnasium Monday in order to prevent the coronavirus. Glynn County Superior Judge Ronald Adams stated that they will be summoned to courthouse in 20-member groups.
Pool members received a questionnaire containing a three-page question asking them what they know about the case, and which news outlets and social media platforms they rely on for information.
It also asks prospective jurors if they have made any online comments about Arbery’s murder and if they have visited the site of the shooting or done other research on the case.
Both sides’ attorneys will be questioning jurors in the coming days, individually and in groups, to see if they have formed opinions that make them incapable of serving.
The judge will need to seat a jury consisting of 12 jurors and four alternates. These alternates will stand by to replace any jurors that are sick or dismissed prior to the trial.
Adams stated that the trial could last more than two weeks once a jury has been seated.