‘Breakdown’ Ep. 14: We’re almost there

Travis McMichael attends the jury selection in his trial at the Gwynn County Superior Court, in Brunswick, Ga., Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. He's one of three men charged with the February 2020 death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. The 14th episode of the AJC's "Breakdown" podcast looks at the second week of jury selection in the trial. (Octavio Jones/Pool Photo via AP)
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Travis McMichael attends the jury selection in his trial at the Gwynn County Superior Court, in Brunswick, Ga., Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. He's one of three men charged with the February 2020 death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. The 14th episode of the AJC's "Breakdown" podcast looks at the second week of jury selection in the trial. (Octavio Jones/Pool Photo via AP)

Credit: Octavio Jones

Credit: Octavio Jones

Jury selection in the Arbery trial continues, as the court struggles to find 64 impartial minds.

The second week of jury selection ended with the end in sight. Early next week, it is expected that 64 Glynn County residents will be qualified into a pool from which 12 jurors and four alternates will be chose.

This season’s 14th episode of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s ‘Breakdown’ podcast explores the fascinating, and laborious, jury selection process in the ongoing trial of three men charged with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery on Feb. 23, 2020.

Travis McMichael, his father Greg McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan have now sat in court for almost two weeks watching one prospective juror after another express their feelings about the case.

With a few exceptions, it cannot have been a good experience for them. Many prospective jurors have said they feel the McMichaels and Bryan are guilty. And they say their minds are so fixed they have been dismissed on grounds they cannot be fair and impartial.

At the same time, some jurors who know the McMichaels and Bryan have been qualified. Some know Greg McMichael’s wife, one knows Bryan’s fiancée. Others who participated in the “I Run With Maud” movement in support of Arbery’s family were also qualified after they said they could keep an open mind.

Jury consultant Denise de La Rue said she found it “stunning” some of those jurors were qualified to serve.

ExploreComplete coverage of the Ahmaud Arbery case

“It’s concerning because I don’t see, since jurors are human beings and not computers, that they can possibly put those beliefs or those life experiences aside … and view the case objectively,” de La Rue said.

The episode also considers the presence of demonstrators outside the courthouse, a failed attempt to move them to a First Amendment-protected zone off to the side and the demonstrations’ possible influence on the jury that’s ultimately chosen.

ExploreListen to previous seasons of the AJC's 'Breakdown' podcast