Jury selection continues for Arbery trial

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 4:01 PM EDT
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BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WTOC) - Sixty potential jurors have now gone through the jury selection process.

The prosecution and defense looking to find 12 jurors and 4 alternates out of 1,000 Glynn County residents summoned.

That panel could be picked out of the first 600 summoned this week though, depending on how the jury selection process progresses.

An attorney for Travis McMichael indicated during one of the breaks today 64 qualified jurors is the number to hit, to then pare down to the final panel needed.

When Wednesday’s group was sworn in, nearly a dozen raised their hands when asked if they’ve formed or expressed an opinion about the case, and five revealed their mind is not completely neutral.

“Is there anyone here who wants to serve on this jury? No cards,” lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said.

Saying you don’t want to be on the jury doesn’t necessarily disqualify you.

A veteran federal prosecutor, who now does contract work for the public defender and is private attorney, said it’s more of a red flag for both the prosecution and defense if someone indicates they want to be part of the jury. That would raise questions about that potential juror’s motive.

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.

‘Free speech zone’ setup near the courthouse

A grass lot is normally a parking area for county vehicles.

But the Glynn County Sheriff’s Office has transformed it into what the sheriff is calling a 1st Amendment, free speech lot for people who want to voice their opinion in a peaceful demonstration.

This is all in anticipation of the possible arrival of demonstrators as the trial process continues.

There hasn’t been a need for this area just yet, but there was a lot more movement Wednesday, with heavy machinery picking up large concrete barriers and positioning them around the lot.

In addition to outlining the designated area, the sheriff says barriers will also help protect demonstrators from any drivers who may get distracted and veer off the road.

“We just wanted everybody to be able to park, assemble, and then walk freely. So, the county vehicles have been moved off-site, and it’s just the citizen’s lot, that’s it,” Glynn County Sheriff E. Neal Jump sai

There’s also a stage that’s being set up inside as well, to give those who want to exercise their 1st Amendment right an elevated surface to talk to the crowd.

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