(BRUNSWICK, Ga.) — The murder trial of three white Georgia men charged in the 2020 killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man prosecutors allege was “hunted down” and shot to death while out for a Sunday jog, has begun.
The evidence portion of the high-profile case kicked off just after 9 a.m. in Glynn County Superior Court in Brunswick, Georgia.
“I do feel like we’re getting closer to justice for Ahmaud day by day,” Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said in an interview scheduled to be broadcast Friday night on ABC’s Nightline.
The trial started under a cloud of controversy after a jury comprised of 11 white people and one Black person was selected on Wednesday, prompting an objection from prosecutors that the selection process, which took nearly three weeks, ended up racially biased.
On Thursday afternoon, one of the seated jurors, a white woman in her 40s or 50s, was dismissed from the panel for undisclosed medical issues. One of the alternate jurors, a white person, replaced her, bringing the number of alternates to three. All of the alternates are white.
The three defendants are Gregory McMichael, 65, a retired police officer; his son, Travis McMichael, 35; and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, 52.
The men have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, aggravated assault and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
The McMichaels and Bryan were also indicted on federal hate crime charges in April and have all pleaded not guilty.
Arbery was out jogging on Feb. 23, 2020, through the Satilla Shores neighborhood near Brunswick when he was killed.
Nov 05, 9:32 am
Judge makes last-minute rulings
Judge Timothy Walmsley, who is presiding over the murder trial, made his final rulings on motions before the jury was expected to be sworn in to hear opening statements.
Walmsley denied a defense motion to blur out a Confederate flag vanity plate that was on the front of Travis McMichael’s pickup truck that was used to chase down Arbery on the day he was killed. Walmsley declared the vanity plate was relevant to the case after prosecutor Linda Dunikowski argued at a recent hearing that there was circumstantial evidence that Arbery saw the license plate as the truck came toward him and prompted him to reverse course.
“He put this on his truck. He wanted the world to see it,” Duniowski alleged of Travis McMichael, accusing the defense of being “disingenuous” for asking that the plate be blurred out.
The judge also denied a request from the defense to allow the jury to hear that Arbery was on probation at the time of his death.
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