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Jury selection continues for trial over Arbery slaying

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 4:43 AM EDT
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BRUNSWICK, Ga. - A third group of 20 potential jurors were going through the selection process Wednesday, and multiple people have been excused.

Those reasons include people having caregiving responsibilities at home with no other options, to those who said with certainty they could not be fair and impartial as a juror.

Outside the courthouse, a group of Arbery family supporters who have been here since Saturday again posted up just outside the entrance.

During the midday break, the nonprofit organizing the group called on a local restaurant for lunch. The owner of Mr. Schuck’s Seafood in says he’s happy to be able to bring southern cooking to the visitors coming in from all over.

“When I heard that folks were coming from all over the world, I mean, it was like wild to me. Because, you know, I’m from Brunswick. Grew up, born and raised. And just never thought that we would witness something of this capacity in our own town,” Donte Habersham said.

Habersham said his message to the whole community through the trial process is: Let’s stick together.

A judge has deemed eight jury pool members qualified to serve on the jury.

Dozens more will be needed before a final jury of 12 jurors and four alternates can be seated in the case of the slain Black man.

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Graphic video of Arbery’s slaying in 2020 sparked a national outcry. Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, are charged with murder. Defense attorneys insist they committed no crimes.

The process of selecting a jury was supposed to take two weeks, but it will now likely stretch into a third week.

The third group of 20 jurors was sent home Tuesday after it became clear the court wouldn’t get to them that day. So that’s creating a domino effect, where the next dozen or so jury groups are being pushed back a day.

That means it’s going to take three weeks to do them all.

Judge Timothy Walmsley voiced some frustration with the pace of jury selection before lunch Tuesday and told the prosecution and defense they need to speed up the process.

Walmsley said the court doesn’t have the ability to keep potential jurors waiting too long. He added at the current rate, the planned schedule won’t work.

At last check, half of the second group to be questioned so far this week has already been disqualified.

The first day of the jury selection process began around 1 p.m. and finished around 6:30 p.m. Monday night.

In the first group, one juror pulled aside for individual questioning said he didn’t want to be there, and that he didn’t want other people’s lives in his hands.

Another juror said “none of this makes me feel good” about the outcome of the case, whatever the outcome is.

In that first group of 20 Monday, jurors were asked if they have a negative feeling toward Travis McMichael, and at least seven jurors raised their hand. And at least nine jurors raised a hand when asked the same about Greg McMichael, almost half of the potential jurors in the room at the time.

The jury pool this week is made up of 600 potential jurors. Ultimately, just 12 jurors and four alternates will be chosen to decide the outcome of the trial.

From reports by WTOC and The Associated Press