BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The federal judge presiding over the upcoming hate crimes trial of the three white men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery said she plans to summon roughly 1,000 potential jurors from 43 Georgia counties.
U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood said at a hearing Monday she agreed with prosecutors and defense attorneys that drawing a jury pool from a boarder area of the state was warranted after the murder trial that ended with convictions in state court last month garnered extensive pretrial publicity. Wood said the trial will remain in Brunswick, where Arbery was slain in February 2020.
Federal prosecutors said father and son Greg and Travis McMichael and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan chased and killed 25-year-old Arbery because he was Black.
In the murder trial, the three men were convicted of killing the 25-year-old on the the day before Thanksgiving. During the trial, Travis McMichael testified in his own defense.
“I want to give my side of the story,” Travis McMichael said Wednesday, Nov. 17, as his attorney called him to the witness stand. He recounted the events of the day and tearfully told the courtroom, "I shot him."
There was a long road leading up to the trial, which many would say was set in motion largely because of two elements: video and social media. Arbery’s killing, along with many others, gained widespread attention in the Black Lives Matter movement and during the 2020 summer protests over racial injustice.
While the the three defendants face a minimum of life in prison for their murder conviction, the federal hate crimes case is set to begin in Feb. 2022.
Arbery’s family also filed a federal lawsuit on the one-year anniversary of his death, claiming the men violated his civil rights.