The judge in the trial of three White men who chased and killed Ahmaud Arbery declined to override decisions in jury selection Wednesday that left just one Black juror on the final panel of 12, though he agreed with prosecutors that “there appears to be intentional discrimination,” reports Associated Press/Huffington Post.
Prosecutors had asked Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley to reinstate eight Black potential jurors, arguing that defense lawyers struck them from the final jury because of their race. The U.S. Supreme Court has held it’s unconstitutional for attorneys during jury selection to strike potential jurors solely based on race or ethnicity.
Walmsley said he was limited in his ability to change the jury’s racial makeup because defense attorneys were able to give nonracial reasons for their decisions to strike the potential Black jurors from the panel.
Race is a central issue in the trial over the 25-year-old Black man’s death. Greg McMichael and his adult son, Travis McMichael, armed themselves and pursued Arbery in a pickup truck after they spotted him running in their neighborhood. A neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan,” joined the chase in his own truck and took cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery three times with a shotgun.
After more than two weeks of jury selection, attorneys on both sides Wednesday narrowed a panel of 48 potential jurors to a final jury of 12.
Minutes later, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski challenged defense attorneys’ decision to strike eight specific Black jurors, arguing they were cut from the panel because of their race.