A Nearly All White Jury Will Hear the Case of Ahmaud Arbery’s Murder Even As Judge Admits It Looks Like ‘Discrimination’

The murder trial of defendants Gregory and Travis McMichael — who are accused of hunting down and killing Ahmaud Arbery — is underway and already getting ugly. Although the jury only has one Black member (out of 12), which the judge admitted looked like “intentional discrimination,” the case is already underway and many are questioning whether the jury will be capable of delivering justice in the deeply concerning and polarizing court case.

Out of the twelve member jury, only one member is Black.

Opening arguments are set to begin on Friday, but on Wednesday the judge overseeing the murder trial of Gregory and Travis McMichael — who are accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery — acknowledged there appeared to be “intentional discrimination.” However, the judge decided to accept the jury anyway even after defense attorneys struck almost all Black jurors from the pool.

The final jury selection comes after 11 days of deliberation, and lawyers were initially given a pool of 48 potential jurors, 12 of whom were Black. But defense lawyers for the accused murderers, Gregory McMichael, 67, his 35-year-old son Travis McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, struck all but one of them from the final jury.

Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, said as she left the courthouse Wednesday she was “shocked” there was only one Black juror.

“I mean, that was devastating,” she said.

Prosecutors asked Judge Timothy Walmsley to reverse the removal of the Black jurors, who they argued had been intentionally targeted over race, which landmark 1986 Supreme Court ruling bans. But although the judge acknowledged the apparent discrimination, he said he was limited in what he could do because of the defense lawyers’ justifications, which did not mention race or ethnicity.

Despite the lack of representation on the jury, Arbery’s family is hoping for justice.

With the opening statements set to begin on Friday, we will get our first look at how the murder case against the three defendants — Gregory McMichael, 65; his son Travis McMichael, 35; and their neighbor William Bryan, 52 — will unfold, each facing up to a life sentence for his role in Ahmaud Arbery’s killing.

The alleged killers are expected to argue that they gunned down Arbery thinking that he was responsible for a series of break-ins in their neighborhood, and that they were simply trying to carry out a legal citizen’s arrest under a state statute that has since been largely repealed.

But prosecutors will argue that the men had no right to make an arrest and should be held accountable for the murder, which many describe as a modern-day lynching.

Both sides expected a difficult jury selection but nothing quite like this.

The murder of Ahmaud Arbery was one of Georgia’s most notorious in decades, and many prospective jurors — the court system sent out 1,000 jury notices — said they had already formed opinions about it. So it would have been difficult to find a completely non-biased juror.

“This has been the strangest jury selection process I have ever seen,” Lee Merritt, a lawyer for the Arbery family told the New York Times. “We understand there are some unique circumstances. There’s very few people who wouldn’t have heard about this case. Most have developed an opinion about the case. So I understand that the attorneys in general will have some questions that we’re not used to.”

Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael and their neighbor William Bryan, stand accused of nine charges, including five counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and one count of malice murder.

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