AHMAUD ARBERY: Jury seated in federal hate crimes trial more diverse than state trial

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Cameras aren’t allowed inside the federal courthouse in Brunswick but just before noon Monday, a jury was seated in the federal hate crimes trial for three white men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man on February 23, 2020.

Our Action News Law and Safety Expert Dale Carson said now that a jury has been selected it shouldn’t take long for them to hear evidence and reach a verdict.

“This doesn’t involve hundreds of witnesses, it’s not a murder trial where you have to prove a variety of elements beyond a reasonable doubt,” Carson said.

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In a trial that will largely center around race, 8 jurors are white, 3 are black, and 1 is Hispanic. This is a more diverse jury than what we saw in the state’s murder trial, which generated some controversy because only one juror was black, and 11 others were white.

Lynn Whitfield with the Transformative Justice Coalition told Action News Jax that unlike the state trial she doesn’t believe the racial makeup of this jury will be a determining factor in the case. “That’s what we’re looking for in this case, people who can listen to the evidence regardless of their race and render a verdict, a true verdict in the case,” Whitefield said.

Carson agrees, saying the federal judge determines who should be on the jury panel with help from the prosecutor and the defense. “Ultimately, it’s up to the court to select a panel that the court feels is going to be a fair-minded jury panel that will bring in a verdict that is consistent with the facts as they develop, and the evidence is presented,” Carson said.

Four women were also picked as alternates in case one or more jurors cannot serve through to the verdict phase. Three are white and one is Pacific Islander.

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