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Courtroom Report: Here's what's happening during jury selection in trial against men charged in Ahmaud Arbery's death

Here are the notes taken by the pool reporter assigned by Judge Timothy Walmsley. The reporter is from Court TV.
Stock photo of jury box.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Editor's Note: The following are notes taken by the pool reporter assigned to the trial against Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William Bryan. First Coast News has removed some details to help protect the identities of potential jurors.

Court Proceedings Begin

  • Jury selection is underway in Glynn County in the trial against Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan. All three men are facing multiple charges in the shooting death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery in February of 2020 while jogging through a subdivision in the outskirts of Brunswick, Georgia. 
  • 12 jurors and 4 alternates will be picked by the end of the jury selection proceedings.  
  • According to the Glynn County Clerk of Superior and Magistrate Court, 600 potential jurors have been summoned to appear in an offsite location throughout the day. The jurors will be placed in panels of 20 once they make their way Glynn County Superior Court. 
  • An additional 400 potential jurors have been summoned next Monday, October 25th.  
  • In terms of strikes, defense has been granted a total of 24. 8 apiece by each defendant. State gets 12.
  • All three defendants are in the jury assembly room each seated next to their own counsel. 
  • Wanda Cooper Jones and her attorney Lee Merritt arrived right before the proceedings started. Marcus Arbery Sr. And Ben Crump arrived shortly after. Both parents are seated at different tables.  

Questionnaire

  • An hour after the first 20 jurors were assembled, the prosecution has finished their questionnaire. They wrapped up their portion with one single juror raising their hand saying they would like to partake as part of the jury. He was a white male in his mid 20’s. State read a list of about 75 potential witnesses for the trial.
  • The defense for Travis McMichael has started reading through theirs. Objection from state about defense attorney Jason Sheffield saying they jurors would be protected as they began their remarks.
  • Their identities are already being protected according to Chatham County superior Judge Timothy Walmsley. 
  • Arbery parents left Jury Assembly Room as defense took podium.
  • When jurors were asked about having a “negative feeling” towards Travis Mc Michael (2:34) at least 7 jurors raised their hand.
  • Same question about Gregory with at least 9 jurors raising their hand. That’s about half the jurors in this round.
  • When asked by defense attorney Jason Sheffield if they considered Confederate flag to be a “racist symbol” 3 jurors raised their hand.
  • Defense has continued their questionnaire, their theme of questioning leaning heavily on assessing racial disparities.
  • Short recess now. Some jurors will be called for individual questioning.
  • The potential jurors will be moved to the courtroom for that. The two pool reporters now [Court TV] and AP will be allowed in there.

Potential Juror 1

  • First juror called referred to as #773 but was first called for the individual questioning
  • White man in his late 60's. 
  • Has seen video fewer than 5 times. Considered Gregory's behavior to be "stalking behavior" against Arbery. Considers news to be "white noise".
  • Open to being juror. 

Potential Juror 2

  • White man in his late 30's. Has anxiety and depression issues. 
  • Shared shooting video with others. 
  • Found it hard to escape the case because family and work constantly have talked about it. 
  • Brother has been summoned as juror next week. 
  • Owns handguns but no formal training. Has them because of personal safety. 
  • Juror says he doesn't want "to be here". Says he doesn't want to have other people's "lives in my hands". 
  • Fears being a juror and deciding someone's fate will come back to him.
  • Knew officer listed as potential witness by the state in the overflow room from prior job before said officer worked in law enforcement. 

Potential Juror 3

  • White woman in her mid 60's. 
  • Says case is a constant topic of conversation. She acknowledges she has negative feelings against T. McMichel 
  • "A man died, so yeah I have a pretty negative feeling about that". "I don't feel very good about him," she added. 
  • Tried to get off jury duty because of COVID-19 but judge didn't let her. 
  • "I don't understand citizen's arrest"
  • She has consumed news from different sources regarding the case. 
  • First heard about the case when the video first surfaced. Watched video only once. 
  • "The fact that I first saw in the NYT was of concern to me."
  • "There are things that needed to be investigated that hadn't been investigated." 
  • "I have a negative feeling about the whole incident."
  • Mid questioning Chatham County Superior Judge Walmsley asks juror to step out. 
  • Bob Rubin, attorney for T.Michael and Judge got "inappropriate question" about asking if T.McMichael is guilty. 
  • "You cannot ask if a juror if a defendant is guilty or not based of what has been said in this courtoom," Walmsley scolded Rubin.
  • Juror was let back in courtroom after less than 5 minutes. 
  • "None of this makes me feel good" about the outcome of the case regardless of what it is.
  • Attended segregated school from 1st grade until high school roughly. It wasn't forced integration. 
  • Juror doesn't understand why Bryan filmed video or the purpose of filming it. 

Two potential jurors declined

  • Prosecution and defense have declined interest in individual questioning regarding two other jurors listed as part of the panel of 20. 
  • According to my count, 15 other jurors are still eligible for questioning as part of the first round today. 
  • As a reminder, 600 people were summoned today with another 400 to be summoned next Monday
  • At 5:05P Judge Walmsley has granted a 10-minute break requested by the defense.