Arbery was shot to death on February 23, 2020 on a Brunswick street. The incident sparked national outrage after a cellphone recording of the shooting went online two months later. Travis McMichael, Travis McMichael, and William Bryan, a neighbor, were charged with murder and other offenses in the death of the Black man, aged 25 years.
Monday was a long day for defense and prosecution attorneys as they questioned the 20 initial jurors. This is just one of 600 jurors summoned. 400 more are available to be called next week, if necessary.
Arbery's murder dominated news, social media and workplace chatter in coastal Glynn County due to its slow pace and large number of potential jurors. Attorneys were told by one jury panelist that he was tired of hearing about the case. One woman wondered if she should be concerned about her safety if she was a part of the final jury.
Eight potential jurors were dismissed, and four other individuals who had been subject to individual questioning were left unresolved by Monday's court adjournment.
Timothy Walmsley, Superior Court Judge, urged lawyers to "streamline their approach." He stopped defense lawyers multiple times as he asked juror panelists bluntly if they believed the defendants guilty. Or pressed those who had negative impressions about the men on how they would keep impartial.
Walmsley advised an attorney that he would not ask potential jurors their opinions on guilt or innocence.
Jason Sheffield, Travis McMichael's attorney, said that lawyers should ask these questions in order to eliminate members of the jury pool who have already made their mind up.
Sheffield stated, "Life is at stake and we feel that these are reasonable questions."
Officials from the court have indicated that jury selection could take longer than two weeks. Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski also told juror panelists that the trial could drag into the week before Thanksgiving.
The court has not yet identified the race of any prospective jurors.
Prosecutors claim that Arbery was only jogging at the time when McMichaels grabbed guns from him and chased him in their pickup truck. Bryan joined the chase in his truck and captured the now-famous cellphone video of Travis McMichael firing three shots at Arbery from close range using a shotgun.
The defense attorneys claim that the men did not commit any crimes. Greg McMichael said that he believed Arbery was an intruder after security cameras had previously captured him entering a nearby house. After Arbery punched him, Travis McMichael shot in self-defense and tried to grab the weapon.
Prosecutors claim there is no evidence Arbery, an unarmed, committed any crime.