Brunswick, Georgia – No. 218 rode a bicycle to support Amad Arbury’s family after a young black man was cornered and shot dead. No. 236 was a longtime colleague of one of the white men charged with the murder.
The two, identified by numbers alone in court, were summoned as juries in a trial over the murder of Arbury. And after the lawyer asked extensively about the case, the judge decided that it was fair enough to stay in the pool where the final jury was chosen.
Protests against the killing of 25-year-old Arbury in February 2020 echoed across the United States two months later after a video of a graphic mobile phone shooting was leaked online. Some of the final jury members may have prejudice or personal ties to the case, as jury selection is underway in the 85,000 Georgian community where the killings took place. The sex is high.
Judges, prosecutors, and defense lawyers have asked 71 pool members since the jury selection began on Monday. After dismissing people with personal difficulties and unwavering prejudice, 23 were considered eligible to move forward. Dozens more will be needed before the 12 and 4 alternative final judges will be seated.
While asking potential juries, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski often said that the ideal jury for them was a “blank slate.” In a trial over the murder of Arbury, she said it was probably impossible.
“We can’t get it because it’s everywhere,” Dunikoski said in court Thursday.
As a result, many potential juries remained in the pool, even though they came to court, who already knew a lot about what had happened. That’s because they said they could make a fair decision on the case based solely on the evidence of the trial.
Savannah’s defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor, Donnie Dixon, allows Georgia law to serve as a jury even if he appears in court with an opinion on the case.
“The operational question is whether your opinion is so fixed that you can’t get a fair trial,” said Dixon, who wasn’t involved in the case. “Who knows the reality? But if they say those magic words, the judge can’t disqualify them.”
Father-grown sons Greg and Travis McMichael armed and chased Arbury on a pickup truck after finding them running in the neighborhood. Neighbor William “Rodi” Brian joined the chase and Travis McMichael shot a mobile phone video of three shotgun shots of Arbury at close range.
Greg McMichael, who recently retired after a long career as a district attorney investigator, suspects police Arbury was previously recorded by a security camera in a neighboring house under construction and he might have stolen it. He said. He said Travis McMichael shot Arbury for self-defense after Arbury attacked him.
So far, the case has been driven by outsiders. McMichael’s and Brian were not charged until the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case from local police. Due to the relationship between Greg McMichael and the district attorney, an external prosecutor has been appointed by Metro Atlanta. Similarly, Savanna’s High Court Judge Timothy Walmsley was appointed chair.
If a jury is seated in Glynn County, where 1,000 jury obligation notices have been mailed, the case will ultimately be decided by those whose killings were carried out far closer to their homes.
A jury pool member, No. 218, a retail worker who admitted to being a black woman in court, said in a jury questionnaire, “A young man was shot for his color and three people did the act. Most of the men ran away. “
She said in court Thursday that she rode a bicycle to raise money for Arbury’s family after the shooting. “They feel guilty,” she said, based on what she now knows, while telling lawyers that she can be a fair jury.
Not everyone called on a jury mission is obsessed with killing Arbury. When her husband tried to discuss the case, the self-employed woman refused to hear and said, “I don’t get in the way of reading news and politics.”
She remains in the jury pool.
Others have been disqualified because they appear to be engaged too. The judge fired a woman who said she believed she had seen her running near her house shortly before Arbury was killed. She explained that she felt emotionally connected to him and closely followed the pretrial proceedings.
No. 236 was kept in the jury pool, even though he had known Greg McMichael for 30 years. She is still the clerk of the Brunswick Judicial Patrol District Attorney. She and Greg McMichael weren’t close friends, but she said they were “always around each other.”
The woman said she had also scrutinized Greg McMichael’s personnel files as she was tasked with editing Greg McMichael’s personal information after the press requested a copy.
She told judges and lawyers that she had no strong opinion on the case. The small opinion she provided was not sympathetic.
“I don’t understand why they gave it to their hands. That’s the only thing that bothers me about the day. I would have called 911 and let the police handle it.”
If a sufficient number of people summoned to court continue to express strong opinions, the defense lawyer can ask the judge to stop the jury’s appointment and move the case to another Georgia county.
“It’s the easiest time to change venues,” said Don Samuel, an Atlanta defense lawyer who wasn’t involved in the case. We’re talking about a community that’s saturated with pretrial propaganda. “
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No county “blank slate” jury shaken by the murder of Arbury
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