Preparations for Hate Crime Trial of Three Men Convicted of Killing Ahmaud Arbery Have Begun, and Lawyers Want Jurors from Areas Outside of Brunswick, Georgia

In an effort to seat an impartial jury in the Ahmaud Arbery hate crimes trial, both parties have filed a motion in a U.S. District Court to pull jurors from 43 counties from all over the state of Georgia. This federal case will be the second trial related to Arbery’s slaying.

The three white men convicted last month of killing the 25-year-old Black man will go back to court in February to face a different charge. 

Travis McMichael (left), Roddie Bryan (center), Gregory McMichael (right)

This time, a federal court will see if Greg and Travis McMichael (father and son) and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan violated the civil rights of the young man they murdered, taking his life because of his race.

The legal motion read, “The parties believe that it is likely that many potential jurors from the Brunswick Division will have experienced sustained exposure to the case and may have formed immutable opinions, in one direction or the other, that will ultimately preclude them from sitting on a jury in this case.”

Arbery was killed in a subdivision near Brunswick, Georgia, on Feb. 23, 2020, and the circumstances around his death occupied the headlines of national and local media outlets for months.  

George McMichael leaked a video depicting the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery (above) to quell racial tension on Brunswick, Georgia. (Photo: I Run With Maud/Facebook)

The three men were convicted of felony murder and false imprisonment, aggravated assault, and criminal attempt to commit a felony weeks ago, on November 25.

The lawyers believe that casting a wider net to secure jurors both the prosecution and the defense heighten their chances of getting justice. This strategy is also within their legal right.

According to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Georgia’s website citizens live in 43 counties which are broken down into six divisions. Anyone can be called to serve on a jury outside of the division that they live in if they are called to be in a grand jury or there is a need for a “district-wide” jury.

The prosecution and defense asked the judge to take an additional measure in selecting the jury and submitted a 14-page questionnaire alongside their jury duty notice that will help in identifying anyone that might be excessively biased in the case. 

This is a completely different process than the state trial that convicted the men of murder. That trial’s jury consisted of 11 white people and one Black person from the local division. Despite early accusations that the selection demonstrated intentional discrimination toward Black potential jurors, the prosecution was still able to win their case.

Travis McMichael’s attorney, Amy Lee Copeland, is taking it a step further, asking the judge to consider having the trial in a different city with the judicial district. She suggested Savannah or Augusta.

Both requests came less than two weeks from the pretrial hearing for this federal case on Dec. 20.

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