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Jury Selection Begins for the Killing of Ahmaud Arbery

In the afternoon on Feb. 23, 2020, a black man named Ahmaud Arbery, 25, went for a jog in Brunswick, Georgia, a coastal community about five hours south of Atlanta. Upon entering a neighborhood called Satilla Shores, a white resident named Gregory McMichael incorrectly identified Arbery as a suspect in a string of alleged local break-ins.

Gregory and his son, Travis McMichael, then armed themselves and pursued Arbery in a pickup truck. Gregory and Travis allege that they called out to Arbery and asked him to stop so they could speak with him. When Arbery resisted the confrontation, a fight broke out and three shots were fired. The autopsy report showed that Arbery had two gunshot wounds in his chest. Arbery was unarmed.

More than two months later, Gregory and Travis McMichael were arrested along with a neighbor, William Bryan, who filmed the entirety of the confrontation from behind the McMichael’s truck.

The three men each face nine charges including murder and aggravated assault. They have pleaded not guilty.

Jury selection began last week, presenting unique challenges for the prosecution. Despite the horrific video evidence, for example, the defense is likely to use the video to appeal to biased jurors.

In a recent interview on Court TV, Denver defense lawyer Jeffrey Wolf discussed the challenges of jury selection in a case that seems purely motivated by racial prejudice.

“With jury selection, the difficulties that they’re facing is that the state is obviously dealing with a biased jury pool,” explained Wolf. “This is the Deep South…we know the makeup of the town and the racial divides that exist, still, in this country. The prosecution is looking for people who are going to be open and fair, who are going to give the victim, in this case a black man, the same rights that they’d give the white defendants.”