Jury Selection Begins in Trial Over Ahmaud Arbery’s Killing

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Whether the 3 men accused successful Mr. Arbery’s decease were motived by racism volition rather apt beryllium a large taxable successful the case.

Family members of Ahmaud Arbery, including his mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, center, arrived astatine  a courthouse for assemblage   enactment    connected  Monday.
Credit...Octavio Jones/Reuters

Oct. 18, 2021, 6:43 p.m. ET

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — A analyzable assemblage enactment process kicked disconnected Monday successful the proceedings of the 3 achromatic men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, a Black antheral they had chased done a coastal Georgia neighborhood, with lawyers sparring implicit what kinds of questions the hundreds of imaginable jurors could beryllium subjected to, including questions astir their views connected contention and the Confederate conflict flag.

The slaying of Mr. Arbery, which was filmed by 1 of the men and viewed worldwide, sparked outrage and protest. In and astir Brunswick, a metropolis of astir 15,000 people, it led to a resurgence of civilian rights organizing and governmental activism. On Monday, determination was a palpable consciousness of hostility arsenic journalists, TV trucks and activists gathered extracurricular of the Glynn County Courthouse amid moss-draped trees and a gentle breeze disconnected the adjacent East River.

A fewer twelve protesters, immoderate of whom had travel from retired of town, carried signs declaring “Justice for Ahmaud.”

It whitethorn beryllium hard to find section residents who person not intimately followed the astir explosive execution lawsuit successful South Georgia successful decades, but the tribunal strategy is making an bonzer effort to spot a section jury. As galore arsenic 1,000 radical could yet beryllium called for work successful Glynn County, which has a colonisation of astir 84,500.

Officials person acceptable up an intake halfway astatine a gymnasium successful a section park, wherever imaginable jurors volition beryllium divided into groups of 20 and fixed dates to study to the courthouse downtown. Ronald M. Adams, the clerk of Glynn County Superior Court, said 600 radical were instructed to study to the gym connected Monday; different 400, helium said, could beryllium called adjacent Monday if a assemblage has not yet been seated.

The question of whether the 3 men accused successful Mr. Arbery’s sidesplitting — Gregory McMichael, his lad Travis McMichael, and their neighbour William Bryan — were motivated by racism volition rather apt beryllium a large taxable successful a lawsuit that immoderate person formed arsenic a brutal lynching, and which the defendants’ lawyers person described arsenic a vigorous vicinity ticker effort that ended successful tragedy.

Paul Butler, a instrumentality prof astatine Georgetown University and erstwhile national prosecutor, said the contention of the jurors mightiness beryllium to beryllium 1 of the astir important determinants of the trial’s outcome. Glynn County is astir 69 percent achromatic and 27 percent Black.

Mr. Butler described the lawsuit arsenic a “tragic mash-up” of the 2013 proceedings of George Zimmerman, the vicinity ticker skipper who killed Trayvon Martin successful Florida, and this year’s proceedings of Derek Chauvin, the erstwhile Minneapolis constabulary serviceman who killed George Floyd. Like Mr. Arbery, some Mr. Martin and Mr. Floyd were Black.


Credit...Dustin Chambers for The New York Times

“In George Zimmerman’s trial, 5 of the six jurors were white, and Zimmerman was acquitted. At Derek Chauvin’s trial, the assemblage was precise racially diverse, and Chauvin was convicted,” Professor Butler said. “The contention of jurors matters successful these cases.”

A authorities researcher has said successful a erstwhile tribunal proceeding that Travis McMichael, who changeable Mr. Arbery 3 times aft the trio pursued him done the neighborhood, has utilized racist slurs. But the defendants are expected to reason that they were motivated by suspicion that Mr. Arbery had committed break-ins successful the neighborhood, and that they were acting successful accordance with Georgia’s citizen’s apprehension law, a measurement that this twelvemonth was largely gutted by authorities lawmakers who were disturbed by Mr. Arbery’s killing.

The sidesplitting successful February besides prompted Georgia lawmakers to walk a hatred crimes statute. Later this year, the 3 pursuers are scheduled to look proceedings connected charges that they violated the national hatred crimes law.

Inside the courtroom connected Monday, Judge Timothy R. Walmsley spent the bulk of the greeting refereeing a statement betwixt prosecutors and lawyers for the defence implicit details of the assemblage enactment process, including the quality of questions that imaginable jurors would hear.

Understand the Killing of Ahmaud Arbery

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The shooting. On Feb. 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was shot and killed aft being chased by 3 achromatic men while jogging adjacent his home on the outskirts of Brunswick, Ga. The slaying of Mr. Arbery was captured successful a graphic video that was wide viewed by the public.

He rejected immoderate questions and accepted others that the defence wanted to inquire connected the taxable of race. A question asking jurors whether the sidesplitting had revealed thing astir racism successful the assemblage was struck. But helium allowed a question astir whether radical who show the Confederate conflict emblem were racist.

The justice has not yet ruled upon a defence question to support retired of tribunal the information that Travis McMichael displayed connected his pickup motortruck an representation of the aged Georgia State flag, which incorporates the Confederate conflict flag. He indispensable besides determine connected a question by prosecutors to support from jurors a toxicologist’s uncovering that Mr. Arbery had “a precise insignificant amount” of THC, the main psychoactive compound successful cannabis, successful his humor astatine the clip of his death.

The archetypal radical of 20 imaginable jurors marched into a assemblage assembly country aft lunchtime connected Monday. A bulk of them appeared to beryllium white. At 1 point, Judge Walmsley asked if they had a neutral sentiment of the case. Only 1 idiosyncratic raised a hand. About fractional raised their hands erstwhile asked if they were presently partial to 1 broadside oregon the other.

Linda Dunikoski, the pb prosecutor, told the radical the proceedings could past a month, which would travel aft a assemblage enactment process that whitethorn past 2 weeks oregon more. Outside, protesters had acceptable up folding chairs facing the columned courthouse, watching and waiting.

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