Jury Selection To Begin In Federal Hate Crimes Trial For Convicted Ahmaud Arbery Killers

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Jury selection was beginning Monday in the federal hate crimes trial of three white men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man whose death became part of a larger national reckoning over racial injustice.

Given extensive pretrial publicity, U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood ordered roughly 1,000 jury duty notices to be mailed to residents across 43 Georgia counties — some of them a roughly four-hour drive from the courthouse in coastal Brunswick.

The first 50 jury pool members were to report for questioning Monday to determine if they’re able to serve as fair and impartial jurors. The judge plans to seat a jury of 12 plus four alternate jurors.

Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael armed themselves and used a pickup truck to chase the 25-year-old Arbery after spotting him running in their neighborhood on Feb. 23, 2020. A neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, joined the pursuit in his own truck and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael blasting Arbery with a shotgun.

All three were convicted of murder in a Georgia state court the day before Thanksgiving and sentenced to life in prison a month ago. Federal prosecutors separately them with hate crimes, alleging that the white men targeted Arbery and violated his civil rights because he was Black.

In the state murder trial, defense attorneys argued the defendants were justified in chasing Arbery because they suspected he had committed crimes in their neighborhood. Travis McMichael testified that he opened fire in self-defense after Arbery attacked him with fists and grabbed for his shotgun.