Arbery Trial: Judge unsure if all 64 qualified potential jurors could securely be in courtroom

Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 5:08 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 28, 2021 at 5:47 PM EDT
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GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Thursday is the eighth day of jury selection in the trial of three men facing murder charges for the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.

The court summoned 1,000 Glynn County residents for jury duty for the trial. So far, 42 potential jurors have been qualified. Once 64 potential jurors are qualified, the process of paring that number down to the final panel of 12 jurors and four alternates will begin.

For the past week and a half, groups of up to 20 potential jurors have gone into the courthouse to be interviewed by the prosecution and defense.

Just before wrapping up Wednesday night, Kevin Gough the attorney representing William “Roddie” Bryan, said it appears jury selection will continue into next Monday or potentially Tuesday. But Gough questioned where that next phase of jury selection would take place.

Gough noted 64 potential jurors won’t fit in the courtroom. And Judge Timothy Walmsley went further saying he wasn’t sure all 64 qualified potential jurors could be securely brought back anywhere all at once. Gough, as well as an attorney for Greg McMichael, said they think it’s important that they continue to see the potential jurors faces so they can size them up.

“I have never heard of a case where the defense lawyer and his client didn’t get to look upon the juror as they were making that decision. Otherwise we could just mail, email it in Monday night,” said Gough.

The prosecution suggested bringing the potential jurors in 20 at a time, whittling down that 64 down to the final panel of 16.

Social Media screening for potential jurors

Even while jury selection continues, lawyers are still debating how they interview potential jurors.

Inside the courtroom, there was some discussion brought up by the defense regarding what they called a disparity in resources. William “Roddie” Bryan’s attorney told the Court the prosecution has more resources to dig into the social media backgrounds for potential jurors to find potential red flags about their feelings on the case.

The lead prosecutor countered by saying the information they have is public, and the defense could find everything prosecutors have on their own. Bryan’s attorney also said he’s worried about how honestly potential jurors have been filling out their answers to written questions.

An attorney for Travis McMichael suggested a solution.

“We would ask the Court to allow us perhaps in general questioning to follow up with, has any information changed that you have on the information submitted. Because we do want their statements to us here to be sworn and under oath,” said Jason Sheffield, Travis McMichael’s attorney.

The judge said he had no problem with the defense adding that question to the list for potential jurors moving forward.

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