Three white men are charged with fatally shooting Ahmaud Arbery (right), a black man who was running in their neighborhood (Pictures: Getty Images)
Jury selection begins Monday to hear the trial of three white men charged with fatally shooting Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man who was running in their neighborhood.
This week, a dozen jurors will convene in the small coastal city of Brunswick, Georgia, to judge the actions of Gregory McMichael, 67, his 35-year-old son Travis McMichael, and their neighbor William ‘Roddie’ Bryan – all of whom are white – and have been accused of murdering Arbery.
The trio followed Ahmaud, a former high school athlete who loved to run on his route through the neighborhood, after suspecting he was behind a series of robberies. The men boxed him in with their pickup trucks, cutting off his escape routes.
In the now-infamous and graphic video footage taken by Bryan that day in February 2020, Gregory can be seen standing in a truck bed phoning 911 while his son is in the street, holding his shotgun. Arbery rushes toward the younger McMichael and a brief fight ensues.
Then the first of three shotguns blasts sound off.
Defense attorneys insist the three men committed no crimes. Robert Rubin, the attorney for Travis, said the men were trying to detain Arbery under Georgia’s former citizen’s arrest law and only resorted to violence when he fought them. He maintains Travis fired his gun in self-defense.
The video footage sparked a nation-wide outcry – as the three men walked free for over two months as the video circulated online. It also prompted Georgia state legislature to create the state’s first hate crimes statue, among other changes to its criminal law.
Georgia later repealed its citizen’s arrest law, in part because of Arbery’s death.
Arbery’s death is one of many killings of black Americans that sparked protests over the past year and has been part of a conversation around a racial justice movement that began with the murder of George Floyd.
The men were eventually arrested once Arbery’s death gained national attention.
All three have pleaded not guilty. They were denied bond and have been waiting for trial for more than a year in Glynn County jail.
Leading up to the jury selection process, Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley scheduled a morning hearing to address legal issues that must be resolved before the trial begins. Glynn County court officials mailed jury-duty notices to 1,000 people, expecting a potentially difficult time to find jurors in a community so invested in the killing.
Jury selection could take weeks, as lawyers and officials seek impartial arbiters for a nationally known tragedy condemned by officials across all parties, and among all levels.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, called Arbery’s death ‘horrific’, while President Joe Biden compared it to a lynching, according to the The New York Times. Even former President Donald Trump said the killing was ‘disturbing.’
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