Ahmaud Arbery’s family hopes to see justice in the trial of William “Roddie” Ryan, Travis McMichael, and Gregory McMichael. However, the jury selection looks to be an adventure all on its own.
As of Wednesday, only one-third of all possible jurors screened so far qualified for the jury pool.
With the high profile of Arbery’s killing in local and national media, it’s been difficult to find a group of people who weren’t impacted by the news and video of the incident or ones who hadn’t already formed their opinions on it.
According to reporters, one potential juror said he would try his best to be impartial, but “…I mean, based on the video, Ahmaud was unarmed and the other two were not. It’s kind of hard to show it’s self-defense there.”
Another potential juror said that she wouldn’t let fear control her from weighing in on the case fairly stating, “I think it would be naive to think there couldn’t be real world repercussions.”
On Tuesday, Georgia Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley said that he might not choose a final, 12-person jury, with a group of four alternates, until next week. At this point 36 potential jurors have qualified and the judge hopes to get to 64 by this Friday, which he will then select from.
“Possibly next week,” said Walmsley to potential jurors.
On Feb. 23, 2020, Arbery, 25, who’s Black, was killed after the McMichaels, who are white, accosted him believing him to be a suspect in a recent burglary. At the time of the incident Arbery was jogging through the neighborhood near Brunswick in Glynn County. In the struggle that ensued, Arbery, who was unarmed, was killed with a shotgun by Travis.
Bryan allegedly hit Arbery with his truck and joined the McMichaels in the chase while recording video of the incident. All three men were able to leave the scene once the authorities arrived.
The recorded video of the incident wasn’t leaked until two months later, which led to arrests. All three men face life in prison if convicted of murder. The trial is being held in Brunswick, which is 70 miles south of Savannah. Brunswick is a majority Black neighborhood, but the county it sits in, Glynn County, is majority white.
On CNN, Travis McMichael’s attorney Jason Sheffield said that they weren’t looking for another change of venue because of potential biases in certain areas.
“To ask for a change of venue, we have to find enough evidence that our jury pool is so tainted that we cannot find a fair and impartial jury,” Sheffield said.
Brunswick County District Attorney Jacquelyn Johnson was charged with violating oath of office and obstructing justice in Gregory McMichael’s arrest. He once worked for her office.
The following DA assigned to the case, Waycross Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill, said that the McMichaels had used citizen’s arrest rights in confronting Arbery so there were no grounds for arresting them. Barnhill eventually recused himself from the case. He had personal connections to the McMichaels.
Early on, two local district attorneys recused themselves because of their personal connections to Gregory McMichael.
Gregory McMichael is a former police detective who also served many years as an investigator for the local DA and had retired in 2019, one year before the shooting.