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Jury has just one Black member after defense strikes 11 of 12 Black people from potential pool

Race becomes the focus of jury selection as final pool eliminates almost all Black jurors in the case of three men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — A mostly white jury was chosen in the case of three men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery after defense lawyers struck 11 of 12 Black jurors from the pool of eligible jurors.

“The majority of the African American jurors that came in here were struck for cause immediately because of their firm opinions,” said defense attorney Linda Hogue, who represents Greg McMichael, adding that they were "between a rock and a hard place."

Prosecutors are challenging defense teams' preemptory strikes, asking the defense team for “race neutral reasons” for them.

During the final jury selection Wednesday, attorneys started with 48 potential jurors out of a pool of 65. Prosecutors were given 12 preemptory strikes (which unlike "cause strikes" are subjective) and the defense 24 (eight for each defendant).

The total pool of 65 had 12 Black members, or about a quarter of the pool.

Striking jurors on race alone is illegal. If defendants believe prosecutors are striking jurors based on race alone, they can raise what’s known as a “Batson" challenge. In this case, because the prosecution is raising those concerns, it’s known as a “McCollum” challenge, but each requires a three-step process:

  • The complainant presents argument that a juror was removed based solely on race
  • The other side must offer a race-neutral justification for their strikes
  • The judge must decide whether there was discriminatory intent. If s/he finds it was racially motivated, the juror is then seated on the jury panel.

That process is happening now. 

Stay with First Coast News is this story develops.