Prosecutors protest predominantly white jury in trial for Ahmaud Arbery's killing

UniqueThis 24 November 3, 2021

Judge Timothy Walmsley.
Judge Timothy Walmsley. Octavio Jones-Pool/Getty Images

A jury has been selected for the trial of the men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old unarmed Black man, last year while he was jogging through a Georgia neighborhood.

The three white defendants — George McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and their neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan Jr. — are accused of racially profiling Arbery and have been charged with murder, aggravated assault, and false imprisonment; they have pleaded not guilty.

It took almost three weeks to select the jury, which is made up of 11 white members and one Black member. Prosecutors argued on Wednesday that the defense went out of its way to cut qualified Black jurors because of their race, and Judge Timothy Walmsley agreed that the court "has found that there appears to be intentional discrimination."

However, Walmsley added, in Georgia, "all the defense needs to do is provide that legitimate, nondiscriminatory, clear, reasonably specific, and related reason" for why they struck a juror, and he determined that the defense met that burden. While leaving court on Wednesday, Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said she was "shocked" that only one Black person was seated on the jury. "I mean, that was devastating," she told reporters.

Last week, Bryan's defense lawyer, Kevin Gough, expressed a different concern about the jury pool. "It would appear that white males born in the South, over 40 years of age, without four-year college degrees, sometimes euphemistically known as 'Bubba' or 'Joe Six Pack,' seem to be significantly underrepresented," he said. "We have a problem with that." A jury does not need to represent socioeconomic background, CNN legal analyst Page Pate said, only race and gender. "I've represented doctors who have gone on trial," Pate said. "Now, was my jury made up of a bunch of doctors? Of course not."

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