Second week of jury selection set to begin in Arbery murder trial

Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga.
Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga.(WTOC)
Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 5:35 AM EDT
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BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WTOC) - The second week of jury selection will start Monday morning in Brunswick for the three men charged in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.

Right now, the pool count is at 23 potential jurors that have qualified out of four days of questioning. Dozens more will be needed before a final jury gets selected of 12 jurors and four alternates.

The jury questionnaire posted on the county’s website asks jurors if they have been following this case, how much have they heard from the media, what facts do they believe to be true, and have they seen the video of the February 23 shooting. It also asks that they share all of their social media accounts.

Court was in session four days last week. They did not meet on Friday because Judge Walmsley said one of the lawyers had a personal obligation.

Last week, the defense and prosecution asked one-on-one questions of potential jurors. That is what we expect to happen again this week and possibly into next week.

The fifth day of jury selection began at nine Monday morning. Monday’s group actually reported for the process last week, but had their time slot pushed to this week due to the pace of the process.

Jury selection continues to be a meticulous process, keeping the same pace as last week with only the one group of around twenty prospective jurors being interviewed throughout the day.

Following the same format as last week, the prosecution and defense asked potential jurors questions to gauge things like how much they know about the case, the defendants and potential witnesses. As one juror was leaving after a one-on-one question session, Kevin Gough, an attorney representing William Bryan, told the court he saw Ahmaud Arbery’s father, Marcus, nod at the prospective juror when he came in.

Gough made a similar objection last week, and told the judge today the subtle gestures are mildly concerning. Gough added he thinks the court should do something to make sure jurors aren’t being influenced. The prosecution said they never saw Marcus Arbery gesture towards jurors. Outside the courthouse during Monday’s lunch break, supporters of the Arbery family gave their thoughts on the objection.

“I mean it’s just, this hostility towards Mr. Arbery really needs to stop. I know that he’s trying to represent his client, but that doesn’t mean you get hostile to a family member of somebody who has been killed. That is so inappropriate and I am greatly distressed by it,” said Barbara Arnwine with the Transformative Justice Coalition.

Judge Walmsley told Bryan’s attorney his objection was noted and on the record, but he did not take any other action.

Supporters of the Arbery family, as well as some family members, have been inside and outside the courtroom Monday just like last week, watching the voir dire move along. Outside the courthouse, we caught up with one of Ahmaud Arbery’s aunts who spoke about the toll the jury selection process alone is taking on family.

“Go ahead and pick these people and get this over with. This family, we’ve been through enough. We’re tired of going through this here. We’ve got to have some peace now and try to deal with this. When everybody done gone back to their homes, we’ve still got to live with this here, that Ahmaud is not coming back to us no more,” said Ahmaud Arbery’s aunt Diane Jackson.

At last check, about 23 potential jurors have been qualified. Attorneys want to qualify just over 60 before they start whittling the group down to impanel a jury. Arbery family members say even with the slower-than-desired pace, they plan on being here every day until the trial ends.

WTOC will be in Glynn County throughout the trial and will have the latest updates on-air and online.

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