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Courtroom Report: Here's what happened during Day 5 of death of Ahmaud Arbery trial

By the end of court Monday, nine people were chosen to move to the next round of questioning, bringing the total to 32.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Editor's Notes: 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.

Jurors are be referred to by their number assigned by the court.

Court Begins

  • The judge gives his greeting to the jury, explains the questioning process, and thanks them for their service. 
  • All three defendants are in the courtroom looking mostly straight ahead and without emotion. All defendants are wearing suits. 
  • The potential jurors stand to be sworn in by the judge. 

Judge Walmsley address jurors

  • 408, 411 raise hands when the judge asks if related to defendants or Arbery
  • 377, 392, 397 raise hands when asked if they have already formed an opinion
  • 377 raises hand when asked if they already have any prejudice 
  • 377 raises hand when asked if your mind is not perfectly impartial

 Prosecution Questions Panel

  • 390 difficulty with English
  • 408 415 377 390 life events that will take place during the approximate time of the trial
  • Greg McMicheal raises hand when she asks potential jurors does anyone know Travis McMichael 
  • 383 knows Roddy Bryant 
  • 411 408 knew Ahmaud Arbery
  • 408 411 knows Arbery mother and father 
  • 395 knows Arbery father
  • 383 knows Amy Ellrod
  • 402 knows Lee McMicheals, Greg McMicheals wife 
  • 415 says he worked with Greg McMicheals on something before
  • 377 380 383  415 has served on a jury 
  • 381 has previous law enforcement experience
  • 380 379 395 402 390  arrested before
  • 392 knows defense attorneys Geoff
  • 383 knows Roddy Bryant 
  • 377 380 383  415 has served on a jury 
  • 381 has previous law enforcement experience
  • 377 379 380 381 392 397 411 415 close to someone in law enforcement 
  • 392 experience in the legal field
  • 402 414 medical field
  • 392 knows a lawyer
  • 395 396 386 402 403 409 415 victim of violent crime 
  • 402 403 called 911 before 
  • 396 415 has been a witness at trial 
  • 377 379 380 381 383 386 392 397 402 408 409 411 415 own a firearm
  • 396 wants to serve on the jury 
  • 381 knows Brad Butler (witness on list)
  • 383 392 known Payton (witness on list)

Defense Questions Panel

  • 415 knows Greg McMichael 
  • 383 395 415 knows Roddy Bryant
  • 377 392 395 397 has a negative feeling about Travis McMichael 
  • 377 392 397 has a negative about Bryant
  • 377 392 397 negative feelings about Greg
  • 381 participated in marches
  • 397403 411 414 participated in BLM in any way
  • 380 390 lost an opportunity because of race or ethnicity 
  • 379  380 386 395 397 403 feel black people are treated unfairly in the justice system 
  • 380 386 395 392 397 403 411 police do not treat black people the same as others 
  • 402 says the verdict could cause them negative experiences 

Three jurors struck

  • 10:33 AM Court resumes
  • 390 who does not speak English as a first language was struck after the group questions earlier 
  • Now they begin individual questioning of potential jurors. 
  • Ahmaud Arbery's father is in the courtroom.
  • Stuck for cause: 377, 379

Juror 380

  • Black man older maybe 60s 
  • Said he served on a jury before 
  • Respects law enforcement but does think black people are treated differently by officers 
  • Said was arrested and said "it was the right thing" "first, only, and last"
  • Said he was treated fairly during the arrest 
  • Someone broke into his house before 
  • Said he had close relatives who went to jail before including his sister in law who tried to kill her husband and went to prison. She said he was treated fairly 
  • Saw the cell phone video "about 3 times" that's all he knows about the case
  • Says he can be fair
  • He said he told relative to be careful after learning of Arbery's death.
  • Said the relative knew Ahmaud Arbery. Doesn't seem to be a close friend, just knows from around.
  • Said the burglary he experienced was about a year ago 
  • Noticed a rally one day about Arbery but just went past it because he had received his summons. 
  • Says he hasn't followed the case beyond what he happens to see on the news
  • The defense attorney asks has he seen signs from protestors and "What does justice for Ahmaud mean to you?"
  • He says it means that people want to right a wrong
  • Said from the cell phone video it looks like the McMicheals had it planned
  • Said he's still able to put what he saw aside and listen to the evidence and come to a fair conclusion
  • Says he has not followed news reports since getting his summons
  • Said he's not on social media and barely goes on the internet, says he's "old school"
  • Thinks race played a role in what happened based on his life experience as a Black man 
  • Said he can put aside what he's been through and be objective 
  • Doesn't know anything about Arbery or the defendants 
  • Said he goes to church but the pastor hasn't really talked about the case at all 
  • 380 returns to the rest of the panel in another room
  • Bryant's attorney said that when 380 walked in, Ahmaud Arbery's father nodded at him. Said he is concerned it is a subtle gesture that encourages bias.
  • The other attorneys said they did see the nod.
  • The judge said he did not see it either. 

Juror 381

  • White man, 40s
  • Works in law enforcement instructor (firearms etc)
  • Said he worked for Federal law enforcement at some point 
  • He participated in one of  "run with Maud" runs
  • He said he wanted to support the family after the "tragedy that struck the community"
  • Says the family deserves closure 
  • Said he's seen the cell phone video maybe 5 times 
  • Said he had conversations with his friends in law enforcement when the video initially came out 
  • Know a large number of law enforcement agents because of his work 
  • Said he's not concerned about violence in the community after the verdict; he says its a mostly peaceful community 
  • Said he's not worried about his safety  
  • 381 rejoins panel 
  • Prosecution raises an objection to the defense asking potential jurors "What does justice for Ahmuad mean to you?"

Defense Motion

  • Defense attorney Laura Hogue submits an oral motion to add a few questions for potential jurors to address what she says is an "unfair system that has been accompanied by movements" for a verdict.
  • She specifically mentions the "Justice for Ahmaud" mantra which she says encourages a guilty verdict. 
  • Hogue thinks being in a small town and the pre-trial publicity can affect jurors. 
  • She also feels the arrest of Jackie Johnson, hate crime laws, and civil lawsuits can affect jurors. 
  • Some of the proposed questions:
  1. Whether the amount of time between 2/23/2020 (when Ahmaud was killed ) and when the defendants were charged has played any role in how you feel about the case or defendants.
  2. If you were in the accused place, would you want someone with your views on the jury?
  3. Do you think a not guilty verdict will affect your standing in the community or for your loved ones?
  • The judge said the Prosecution deserves time to prepare a proper response to the defense motion before he can make a ruling. 

Two Jurors Struck

  • 408 is struck for cause (related to Arbery)
    • Said she really doesn't know if she can do it (be objective and serve on the jury)
  • 411 is struck for cause (friend of Arbery)
    • Said his friendship with Ahmaud would not hinder him from being objective

      Says he already has a fixed opinion in the case and doesn't think the evidence will change that

    • Ahmaud Arbery's mother entered the courtroom. Both parents are now in the courtroom

Juror 383

  • White woman
  • Knows Roddie Bryan
  • Has seen social media comments about the case 
  • Said even with knowing Bryan she can be fair and impartial 
  • Has not formed any opinion of the 3 defendants at this time
  • Says she can be fair despite being a victim of theft before
  • Owns a firearm
  • Says she recognizes the names of a few people on the witness list but none are close friends

Juror 386

  • Black man, 30s
  • Family member arrested, doesn't think he was treated fairly
  • Was a victim of a burglary
  • Owns firearms
  • Has lived in Glynn County a few years
  • Says despite his experiences he can be objective
  • Does not feel any pressure from the community no matter what the verdict is 
  • Talked about the case with his family when Ahmaud's death initially happened but not frequently
  • Said he saw the cell phone video several times 
  • Said on his juror form that he felt Ahmaud was scared for his life 
  • Feels that it was unfair especially two against one 
  • Said he's probably liked Run with Maud posts on social media
  • Has not gone to any rallies for Ahmaud, or BLM
  • Feels he could be fair despite his past experiences and thoughts once he sees the evidence
  • Thinks race plays a role in the case. He said since Ahmaud was young and black in a white neighborhood he was targeted
  • Said he saw a citizen's arrest once when two guys held someone down who tried to break into a car. He said it was fair
  • *Mr. Hogue asked #386 one of the questions his wife Laura filed the motion to ask earlier. The judge said he has not yet ruled on the motion to ask the question so he objective. Mr. Hogue said he didn't understand why. The judge sent #386 away while they discuss the issue.
  • After #386 returned and questions were completed, The Judge said he wanted to go on the record the 3rd question Hogue filed a motion to ask the jury could be considered racially charged. (paraphrase: Would you want you to serve on a jury for you with your views)? The Judge said this is one reasons why he feels the prosecution deserves the time to review before they respond... and before he rules. 

Juror 395

  • Juror 395, a black man perhaps in his 50s or 60s, said he knew Marcus Arbery Sr. He said Bryan had sold him some lawn equipment. 
  • He said he had negative opinions of Greg McMichael as a parent: “I couldn’t imagine doing something like that as a father with my son.” “I can put it aside. I’m just being honest as a parent.” 
  • When asked if he saw any demonstrators gathering outside or saw the banner outside of the courthouse he said he doesn’t remember and hadn’t paid attention. 
  • He’s not on social media, but has seen information about the case on the news. He hasn’t followed them. “Somebody got killed, I know that, but the rest of it, what really happened, I don’t know.” 
  • The defense asked the juror why he believed Ahmaud was killed while jogging. 
  • “I have no idea.” Asked if he saw references to ‘jogging’ on the news, he said “that must have been where it came from. Are you saying he wasn’t jogging?” 
  • Said he could be open to hearing a self-defense case: “I mean that’s the only way to form an opinion. You really have to know what happened.” 
  • He said that based on what he’s heard about former DA Jackie Johnson, her handling of case made matters worse. 
  • “The people voted her out, so she did something wrong.” “I really don’t know how it was mishandled, but it was mishandled somehow.” 
  • Juror said he doesn’t know a lot about the case and any negative feeling he has about it won’t impact his ability to make a decision in it. Says he has to know more. 
  • Says he doesn’t own a gun but is getting ready to buy one because “I just think you need to have one these days for safety.” No experience with guns in the past. 
  • Works for a major corporation. 
  • Has served on a grand jury.

Juror 396

  • Juror 396, white woman age 30-40. 
  • Juror says she has a suspicion she went to school with someone on the witness list but isn't sure. 
  • Currently not employed.
  • No opinions on the guilt or innocence of any of the defendants. Said she had scrolled past articles about the shooting on Facebook. 
  • “I didn’t want to be bored out of my gourd about it” 
  • Didn’t want to be exposed to this case and has been limiting exposure. Had been getting notifications from the Brunswick News, but when the articles about this case started coming out, “I snoozed them for 30 days” 
  • “When you asked the question about who wants to be a part of this, that was me” 
  • When questioned by Sheffield, juror was asked about going to high school with Travis. Said she wasn’t sure if they weren’t to school together but may have. 
  • Isn’t sure that she’s seen the video and doesn’t know a lot of the specifics of the case. “This case became another case of community impact. It became another example of uniting some and dividing others in the community. That’s been my takeaway of the case so far.” 
  • Says she hasn’t discussed the case with a lot of people because she’s a homebody. “I tend to live a pretty drama-free life.” 
  • Says she wrote in her questionnaire that two guys murdered another guy based on the general consensus of people around her. Also says she hasn’t heard of citizen's arrest and hasn’t researched it. Says she has not been involved in the BLM movement. “My theory is black white pink purple polkadotted or rainbow, people are people and everybody has rights.” 
  • Sheffield: “What do you understand about Mr. Arbery.” Juror 396: “I never met him. I don’t know him.”
  • Says she feels that there are probably entities that are trying to make it about race and that would only happen if the parties involved make it become that. Says there are those who are capitalizing on using certain motivations to create a frenzy. “When people are fighting, they’re not thinking. If they’re thinking, they’re probably not fighting.”

Juror 397 Struck

Juror 402

  • Juror 402, white man, maybe late 50s? early 60s? 
  • Knows Leigh McMichael
  • Says he’s concerned about being able to reach a verdict without the opinion of the community being a burden on him. Because of heavy publicity, he’s not sure about anonymity. “Whatever verdict comes down is likely to make somebody unhappy, and I have to live here.” 
  • Says he has concerns but can impartially weigh the evidence. 
  • Says he hasn’t watched the video at all. “I didn’t need to. A thousand people around me were telling me what they’d seen.” 
  • Said he’s commented on articles regarding the case on Facebook. Read Fox News stories and responded to one post from a CNN contributor he felt characterized Brunswick as a segregated, systemically racist town. Commented, “It is not.”
  • When people brought up the case he said he thought there might be some bad judgment on their part but preferred to wait until there was more substantial evidence before passing judgment, even before he knew he would be summoned as a juror
  • “I would like to think whether I’m chosen or not-- and I’m certainly not asking to be chosen-- that there would be some way to have a fair trial.”

Juror 403

  • 403, black woman, 20s or 30s
  • Says she may know someone on the witness list but they are not close and wouldn’t give their opinion any additional weight over other witnesses. 
  • Participated in a protest here to support friends. Protest was about the Arbery case. 
  • Posted about racial injustice on IG and has used the hashtags. Said she would be able to be impartial and follow the law. Says she doesn’t know a lot of facts about the case. 
  • About the events she attended: I wasn’t in favor of everything that was going on, but I wasn’t opposed to everything that was going on. Supports the social injustice piece, the law piece and the educated people. The other things go in one ear and out the other. 
  • Said her friends have varying opinions on the case and she can’t speak for them. Some were in favor of arresting the defendants, some were up in the air, some were concerned about the community. 
  • Says the hashtag “Justice for Ahmaud” means something for her. 
  • “His life is gone. He can’t speak for himself, so some time of justice has to come out.” When asked what justice is: “Just to acknowledge that something went on.” 
  • Is affiliated with a nonprofit.
  • Is up in the air on if this case involved race: “I don’t know the facts.”
  • Saw the video of the interaction Ahmaud had with police in the park. Her takeaway was that citizens should understand the laws more and know what to do in certain situations more

Juror 409

  • 409 young white man, age range unclear. 
  • Says he was the victim of a crime and his car was broken into. 
  • “Nothing was ever made of it. Jackie Johnson threw it out.” Says it left a bad taste in his mouth. Whole process was great up until it got to her office. 
  • Does not want to sit on the jury. “I don’t care enough, to be honest with you.” 
  • Says he sees the case every time he logs into social media, but he hasn’t formed any opinions about the defendants based on what he’s seen. 
  • Says he doesn’t know the facts of the case. “Nobody will know what happened except for who was there when the incident took place.” 
  • Struck for cause.

Juror 414

  • Juror 414, black woman in mid 30s-ish. 
  • She wrote that she believed after having problems in the neighborhood, three men took the law in their own hands. Said someone may or may not have been trespassing but she still doesn’t feel that’s a reason for someone to lose their life. 
  • Negative feelings about guns but said she can put those aside. Would be willing to hear out a self-defense claim. 
  • Supports BLM, participated in a march a couple of years ago, not related to this case. Has commented on social media posts related to this case to offer condolences. Doesn’t feel that anything she has posted or anything she saw on social media has swayed her from givng the defendants a fair trial.
  • Asked if she believes the defendants are guilty of anything as they sit in the courtroom right now: “I think that they are guilty of murder, but I think there are all kinds of circumstances that could probably justify murder.” 
  • Believes there could have been a different outcome if the McMichaels had taken different actions such as tackling Ahmaud Arbery. 
  • “I try not to have a negative opinion about anyone,” says she doesn’t feel the events leading to Ahmaud’s death should have happened but she doesn’t have a negative feeling about Travis or Greg
  • Asked about liking a post supporting Georgia hate crime bill arising out of shooting
  • “I think that that came because of this shooting, didn’t it?” Doesn’t know if this is a hate crime yet, but supports hate crime legislation in general
  • Says she wants to believe race was not a factor and wants to give people the benefit of the doubt. 
  • “I would like to believe if Mr. Arbery were white, this would still happen.”

 Juror 415

  • Juror 415, a white man in his 60s, says he knows Greg and Travis. 
  • He says he has a scheduling conflict and has plans to travel starting late next week. Says it's the only vacation he gets a year. 
  • Says he doesn’t feel good about seeing the video. “What I’ve seen is disturbing.” Says he’s somewhat formed an opinion on guilt or innocence. “He was definitely shot. He shot him. That’s the only opinion I have there."
  • Said he’s heard about the case “a pretty good little bit” and watches the news every night.  Says it would be hard to put the video aside and he doesn’t know what evidence they have to overcome the video.

Court Adjourns

  • The court is adjourned 8:10PM
  • Resumes 8:30AM
  • The judge brings in the qualified jurors for today and gives them instructions.
  • He tells them to consider themselves available jurors, do not discuss the case, and stay away from social media regarding the case etc.
  • Defense and Prosecution continue to discuss the Defense's motion for additional juror questions. Defense will type out the questions and send out to everyone for them to review tonight.


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