Nearly all-white jury seated in Arbery case

Credit: Ryon Horne

Credit: Ryon Horne

Opening arguments begin Friday in the trial of three men charged in the 2020 shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.

A laborious jury selection process ended Wednesday with a panel of 12 jurors and four alternates. It consisted of four men and 12 women. One is Black, the rest are white. One juror, a white woman, was excused Thursday for medical reasons. Because the court has not identified which 12 are the actual jurors and which three are alternates, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is providing summaries of all 15 selected.

79 – White woman. She believes people of color are not treated equally by police and are sometimes profiled by them. She was once robbed at gunpoint; her assailant pleaded guilty. One relative of hers works for U.S. Customs and Border Protection and another works for the local police department.

158 – White man. A 50-year member of the Republican Party, he once served as a law enforcement officer. He has viewed the cellphone video and watched a pretrial hearing but believes he could make a decision based solely on the evidence. “There’s a whole lot about this case I don’t know,” he said. When discussing with others, he said, it often led to the question, “What do you think the truth is?”

168 – White woman. “I do not know enough about the case to form an opinion,” she said. “It was a horrible situation as everyone knows but nothing is ever as it seems to be. I don’t think the video is the whole story. I think the video is part of the story. I think there is a lot to the story and that is what (this case) is to find out.” She said everyone is entitled to a fair trial. “I take things with a grain of salt until proven otherwise,” she said.

234 – White woman. “I am aware of (the case) but am not familiar with the details because I go out of my way to not read news or politics,” she said. “I would rather spend my energy elsewhere.” She said she can base her verdict on the evidence. When asked if she thought the case was about racism, she said, “Not the case but the timing of everything, it got lumped in with events all at the same time.” Asked if she was worried about serving, she said, “I think that’s natural fear. It’s a small enough town. I think it would be naïve to think there couldn’t be real world repercussions.”

258 – White man. A former law enforcement agent, he said he can be fair and impartial. He said he’s watched the cellphone video about 10 times. He said he will follow the law and hold the state to its burden of proof. Asked if he was interested in the case, he said, “It’s just a regular case and I’m not involved with it.”

380 - Black man. He believes people of color are treated unfairly by law enforcement. He said he’s seen the cellphone video at least three times but isn’t extremely familiar with the case. “I’m gone more than I’m here,” he said, noting he travels a lot. “All I know is what they showed on the film.” He said he would be open to considering self-defense or a citizen’s arrest defense.

496 - White woman. She has not seen or read much about the case. She reads The Epoch Times, which has great influence in right-wing media. As for the cellphone video, “It was an obscene video. I clearly remember seeing Arbery fall. Someone died. There’s no reason someone should ever have to see somebody else die.” Said she doesn’t want to see the video again, “but if I had to watch it I would.”

580 - White woman. She was out of town when Arbery was killed and found out about it later. She expressed concerns about her safety if picked to serve. “The state of the world right now has everyone on edge,” she said, adding she has a fear of “being followed home” from court.

195 - White woman. She is a self-described “never-Trumper.” She said she wants to serve on this case because it’s historic. She said she believes race played a role in the shooting. “This young man was in a predominantly white neighborhood and he was Black,” she said.

274 - White woman. “This may be mean, but they wouldn’t be my friends,” she said of the defendants. “They’re not my kind of people.” She believes Black people are not treated equally in the justice system. She is willing to consider all the evidence. “Everybody deserves a fair trial,” she said. “I’d want somebody to do that for me.”

281 - White woman. She has discussed the case with her family, but not extensively. “If somebody happens to share something on Facebook, I’ll see the headline there; I don’t actively seek out news,” she said. She had never heard of the case until she told people she was moving to the area.

282 - White woman. “I have mixed feelings about this whole case,” she said. “I don’t know if we’ll ever really know what happened. I think there’s always two sides to everything. After you see the shooting, you think ‘Why did it happen?’” She feels race may have played a role in the shooting and asked, “Why they didn’t just call the police?” She said she has negative feelings about the defendants.

773 - White man. A military veteran, he has a negative impression of Greg McMichael but not the other two defendants. “I got the impression he was stalking,” he said. He said he based that on news coverage and the cellphone video. He also also said he has not made up his mind about McMichael’s guilt.

364 - White woman. She knows little about the case. “Basically I didn’t even put their names into my head until today,” she said of the defendants. “I just knew two had the same last name.” When reminded that because she’s in her 70s she did not have to serve as a juror if she didn’t want to, she said, “I wouldn’t mind. I think it’s probably my duty to do it. That doesn’t mean I want to.”

440: White woman. She grew up in metro Atlanta and researched the case after receiving her jury summons because she wanted to know what she was getting into. The woman said she doesn’t know enough about the case to have an opinion on the guilt or innocence of the defendants.