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Arbery trial jury selection enters week 3

Glynn County courthouse
Glynn County courthouse
Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 7:07 AM EDT|Updated: Nov. 1, 2021 at 3:24 PM EDT
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BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WTOC) - UPDATE: The tenth day of jury selection in the Ahmaud Arbery murder trial started with the judge deciding to take someone off the qualified juror list, dropping the number of qualified jurors from 55 to 54.

The person was removed because she needs to pick up her child every evening and the judge could not guarantee that court would be wrapped up in time for her to make it.

The prosecution and defense need to qualify ten more potential jurors to get to the 64 finalists to actually pick the jury from.

Monday’s screening process involved 17 potential jurors. Several from that group have already been eliminated from consideration for a variety of reasons. Some of those include age exemption, for those over 70 who just don’t want to, to folks who told the attorneys they have already made up their mind about guilt or innocence and cannot be persuaded differently.

Even though we’re still in jury selection, the lawyers in the courtroom are saying they expect the whole trial will be done by Nov. 19.

The City of Brunswick decided to close the municipal courthouse starting Monday, until November 29th. Brunswick’s city manager says the decision came down to a staffing issue.

City Manager Regina McDuffie says several Brunswick police officers are committed to the Glynn Unified Command, providing everything from traffic control to security near the courthouse. That leaves fewer officers available for city court operations.

“It would be taxing on the law enforcement. Plus it would be very, I guess uncertain about who would be able to support the court during that time,” said City Manager Regina McDuffie.

McDuffie says everyone with a case in city court who had their court date changed will get a notice about it. She adds that over the course of the pandemic, people have become more accustomed to paying fines online, so she doesn’t think the temporary closure will cause too many issues.

Monday morning, the attorney for William “Roddie” Bryan asked the Court to consider adding more alternates, saying he doesn’t think four is enough. During individual questioning Monday, several potential jurors gave some insight into how they feel about the Arbery case.

One man told attorneys he thinks race played a role in the shooting, adding he didn’t think the events would’ve happened the same way if race had not been a factor. Another potential juror said he believes Arbery’s death was the result of unplanned escalation by the defendants, and they should not have even confronted him. The potential juror also said he doesn’t believe the men on trial had any intent to kill Arbery.

Jury selection continues Tuesday morning.

Monday, Nov. 1 starts day 10 of jury selection in the trial for the three men charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery.

Court will be back in session at 8:30 a.m. at the Glynn County Courthouse, and marks the start of week three in the jury selection process.

Each day so far, potential jurors are asked questions to narrow down the potential juror pool. The number attorneys are looking to reach is 64.

After two weeks, they have identified 55 potential jurors, which will eventually be narrowed down to the final 12 jurors and four alternates.

Dr. Bruce Mallard, Associate Professor of Political Science at Savannah State University, says this phase is all about strategy from the prosecution and defense. Once they get to the grand total of the 64 potential jurors they are looking for, they will go into much more specific questioning to get to the final panel of jurors.

“I think it is possible now that they have a smaller pool. They have done some research on the jurors, they have probably given them a more detailed questionnaire. There is a questionnaire they fill out first that is pretty brief...are you related to anybody in the courtroom? Do you live next door to the judge? Then, it gets fairly specific about some political inclinations, opinions and philosophies,” said Dr. Bruce Mallard, SSU Political Science Associate Professor.

Each side gets a certain number of jurors they can eliminate either with cause or without cause, but Dr. Mallard says they will be cautious to use those strikes because once you have dismissed a juror you might not be able to dismiss someone else later.

This process of narrowing down potential jurors is expected to happen this week. On Monday, they will still be working to get to 64 potential jurors. They need to identify nine more before they can head into the final selection phase before the trial actually begins.

Read more about the case:

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