The jury selection process reached its conclusion in the case on Wednesday. The trial is set to begin at 9 a.m. on Friday, following two weeks of the jury selection process.
The jury will be composed of 11 white people and 1 Black person, after defense lawyers for Gregory and Travis McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan successfully struck 11 of the remaining 12 prospective Black jurors in the final pool from serving on the jury.
Anne Schindler with 11Alive sister station First Coast News in Jacksonville reported the judge said the attempts to strike the prospective Black jurors en masse appeared to involve "intentional discrimination." But, the judge said, they would not be re-seated because the defense offered "legitimate, non-discriminatory, clear, reasonable, specific reasons" to strike each individual juror.
According to the Associated Press, Black people compose roughly 27% of the 85,000 population in Glynn County and were about one-quarter of the final juror pool.
Ben Crump, the Civil Rights attorney who has worked on cases including George Floyd's, issued a statement Thursday decrying the inclusion of just one Black person on the jury:
“After being hunted down, cornered, and shot for being a Black man in a white Georgia neighborhood, Ahmaud Arbery is again denied justice. His killers' fate will be decided by a nearly all-white jury after defense attorneys denied eight potential Black jurors. Even the judge acknowledged 'there appears to be intentional discrimination in the panel.' A jury should reflect the community. Brunswick is 55% Black, so it's outrageous that Black jurors were intentionally excluded to create such an imbalanced jury in a cynical effort to help these cold-blooded killers escape justice.”
Authorities have said Arbery, a Black man, was running through the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Glynn County, near Brunswick, on Feb. 23, 2020 when father and son Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael left their home and began pursuing him. The McMichaels got ahead of him in their truck and blocked the road while a third man, William "Roddie" Bryan, followed and helped effectively pin him in.
Bryan filmed the incident from his following car.
The video taken by Bryan shows Travis McMichael got into a struggle with Arbery, who tried to run around the McMichaels' stopped vehicle blocking the road, and shot him.
Afterward the McMichaels claimed they were attempting a citizen’s arrest, finding Arbery suspicious after there had been a string of thefts they’d reported in the area. Surveillance video from surrounding properties later showed Arbery wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary when the McMichaels began chasing him.
A house under construction he momentarily stepped into and looked around at was a frequent stopping point for people on walks or jogs through the neighborhood - the lawyer for the owner of the property later telling 11Alive there was a water source on site that people sometimes tried to get a drink from.
The subsequent treatment of the killing by local prosecutors as justified, and the lack of any legal action against the men now accused of murder, led to a significant outcry at Arbery's death when video of it emerged months later.
Arbery, along with George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, subsequently became one of the significant symbols of the Black Lives Matter protests that swept across the country in the summer of 2020.