The Killing of Ahmaud Arbery: Murder Trial Begins for 3 White Men in the Shooting Death of Black Jogger

Jury selection begins in Ahmed Arbery murder trial.
Travis McMichael, left, Greg McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan.Handout.

Greg McMichael, his son, Travis and neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan are charged with murder in the shooting death of Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery.

Hundreds of prospective jurors have been summoned to a Georgia courthouse Monday for the trial of three white men accused of killing Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in a shooting that sparked a national outcry.

The 25-year-old's death was captured on graphic video that was leaked to social meeting and fueled Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the country. Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael, and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan are charged with malice and felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.

They have pleaded not guilty.

Jury selection was scheduled to being Monday in the town of Brunswick, where 1,000 people were mailed summonses by Glynn County court officials to appear for jury duty in a trial dominated by race issues, self-defense arguments and the power of cellphone videos.

Arbery was shot by Travis McMichael, 35, who fired three rounds in February 2020. Greg McMichael, 65, said they believed Arbery was a burglary suspect and that Travis shot him in self-defense. Bryan, 52, who recorded the video, allegedly hit Arbery with his truck after joining a chase through the neighborhood initiated by the McMichaels.

After the shooting, the three men were allowed to leave and were not arrested until the video surfaced on the internet months later and state investigators had taken over the case from local authorities.

The footage, and the delay in making arrests, pushed Arbery's death into the national spotlight, illuminating the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Those slayings, and others, ignited protests challenging how law enforcement and the legal system treats Black Americans.

“This is 2021, and it’s time for a change,” Marcus Arbery Sr., Ahmaud's father, told The Associated Press before jury selection was slated to begin. “We need to be treated equally and get fair justice as human beings, because we’ve been treated wrong so long.”

In September, a former Georgia prosecutor was indicted on criminal charges in connection with Arbery's killing.

A Glynn County grand jury charged ex-Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson with one felony count of violating her oath of office and one misdemeanor count of hindering a law enforcement officer.

The charges followed an investigation ordered by Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr last year into the handling of Arbery's slaying by the local district attorney's office.

“Jackie, this is Greg,” he said, according to a recording of the call, which is part of the public case file, The Associated Press reported. “Could you call me as soon as you possibly can? My son and I have been involved in a shooting and I need some advice right away.”

According to the indictment, Johnson exhibited “favor and affection” toward Greg McMichael during the investigation and allegedly interfered with police at the scene by “directing that Travis McMichael should not be placed under arrest.” Greg McMichael had previously worked as an investigator in the prosecutor's office.

Johnson has pleaded not guilty and is free on $10,000 bail pending trial. She has previously denied any wrongdoing in the case.

Hundreds of demonstrators marched in Brunswick on Sunday, calling for justice in the trial.

Jury selection is expected to take two weeks or more. Twelve panelists and four alternates will be chosen. After that, the criminal trial is expected to take two weeks, court officials said.

Related Stories