The jury that will weigh the case of three white men accused of killing Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery is comprised of 11 white people and one lone Black person. The term “1 Black” was even a trending topic Thursday morning on Twitter.
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Prosecutors in the case blame defense attorneys for rejecting Black jurors, according to The New York Times. Lee Merritt, an attorney for Arbery’s family, tweeted Wednesday that the defense team had 24 strikes, 11 of whom were directed at Black people who might otherwise have been placed on the jury.
After hearing the argument, the judge presiding over the case decided the jury would be seated as is.
“This court has found that there appears to be intentional discrimination,” Judge Timothy Walmsley said of the defense’s jury selection on Wednesday, per CNN. But he said he would still allow the jury to be seated, saying the discrimination “doesn’t mean the court has the authority to reseat simply because we have this prima facie case.”
The defense spent two hours arguing their position, after which Walmsley ruled that they had valid reasons, apart from race, to dismiss the jurors, CNN reported.
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The jurors are due back in court Friday morning for opening arguments. They’ll have to decide if Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. are guilty of malice and felony murder when they chased, shot and killed Arbery in trucks after they spotted him jogging in their area. The men have said they suspected Arbery in a series of break-ins in the neighborhood.
They also face charges of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. All three have pleaded not guilty and face potential life sentences.
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