On Wednesday, November 3, a jury was selected for the trial of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, but it has been revealed that only one Black person was chosen. It is made up of residents from Glynn County, where over a quarter of the population is Black, according to the U.S. Census.
Arbery was a 25-year-old Black man who was shot and killed in February 2020 after allegedly being followed by three white men during a jog in Glynn County, Georgia. There was a harrowing video captured by William “Roddie” Bryan, who is also on trial, was widely circulated on social media in early 2020.
On Wednesday, Linda Dunikosi, a special prosecutor from the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office, tried to challenge the defense attorneys’ removal of eight Black potential jurors. She cited the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that makes it unconstitutional to remove people from a jury based on their race. She said she was hoping for jurors to be a “blank slate,” as many prospective jurors said they already had formed an opinion about the trial.
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said to ABC that the news of the jury is “very, very discouraging.” Though while she has concerns about a guilty verdict, she still has faith in the evidence. She added that justice for her son “looks like having all three individuals … sentenced to life in prison.”
Benjamin Crump, who has also served as an attorney for the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Jacob Blake, will also represent the Arbery family. “Ahmaud Arbery will show us how far we’ve come,” Crump said. “When we get this verdict, and it’s guilty, and when they start asking questions of how far we have come in America in 10 years, we can all show this picture. This is how far we’ve come,” Crump said during a town hall held in Georgia on Monday.
Annie Deets, a public defender and adjunct law professor at Emory University and Georgia State University, told the New York Times that she isn’t surprised that it has been difficult to find impartial jurors in this case. “When you have a case that’s high profile and been in the media so much, people make ideas based off snippets and pieces of information,” she said. “But there’s a wealth of information known to the prosecution that the public doesn’t know about.” She added that, in a small community, a “really close-knit web of relationships complicates the process even further.”
“This has been the strangest jury selection process I have ever seen,” Lee Merritt, the Arbery family’s lawyer, also told the New York Times. “We understand there are some unique circumstances. There’s very few people who wouldn’t have heard about this case. Most have developed an opinion about the case. So I understand that the attorneys in general will have some questions that we’re not used to.”
The trial will begin on the morning of November 5. The three defendants, Gregory McMichael, 65, his son Travis McMichael, 35, and their neighbor William Bryan, 52, all potentially face life in prison for their role in the killing of Arbery.