Ahmaud Arbery Case Will be Decided by Jury of 11 Whites, 1 Black

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Despite palpable anxiety over the racial makeup of the 12 individuals who will decide the fate of 3 men held responsible for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in a suburban Georgia neighborhood in February 2020, the jury selected will consist of 11 white people and only 1 Black person, reports the New York Times. Special prosecutor Linda Dunikoski tried to challenge the defense attorneys’ removal of 8 Black potential jurors, citing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that makes it unconstitutional to strike people from a jury solely because of their race, but Judge Timothy R. Walmsley of Glynn County Superior Court ruled that for each of the eight stricken jurors, the defense had provided a “legitimate, nondiscriminatory, clear, reasonably specific and related reason” as to why the potential juror should not be seated.

Dunikoski, the lead prosecutor, said in court that she was hoping for jurors who were a “blank slate.” But the killing was one of the most notorious in South Georgia in decades, and many prospective jurors — the court system sent out 1,000 jury notices — said they had already formed opinions about it. However, Lee Merritt, a lawyer for the Arbery family, also described some of the defense lawyers’ questioning of potential jurors as “badgering.” The lengthy two and a half week selection process, which stood in stark contrast to jury selection for the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, which took only one day, is attributed to the high profile nature of the case in a community like Glynn County where many of its 85,000 residents are connected by bonds of family, school or work, and racial tension and harmony are deeply laced.

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