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Arbery killings have left no 'blank slate jurors' in the county

Both were identified in court by numbers and summoned for jury duty in the trial of Arbery's murder. After extensive questioning, the judge found both men fair-minded enough that they were allowed to continue in the pool to select a final jury.

After the two-month-old graphic cellphone video of Arbery's shooting went online, there was a national outcry. It seems more likely that juror selection is underway in the 85,000-strong Georgia community where the murder took place.

Since Monday's jury selection, the judge, prosecutors, and defense attorneys interviewed 71 members of the pool. 23 of the 71 pool members were disqualified for personal hardships or unshakeable biases. There will be many more before the final jury of twelve plus four alternates is seated.

Linda Dunikoski, the prosecutor, often said to potential jurors that a "blank sheet" would make the best juror. This was evident in the case against Arbery.

Dunikoski, a judge, said in court that "we can't get it because it's all over the place."

The result was that many potential jurors were kept in the pool, despite knowing enough about the case and the people involved to be able to make an informed decision. They said that they could decide the case fairly based on only the trial evidence.

Georgia law permits anyone to serve on a jury, even if they bring an opinion about the case to court, provided that they express an open mind and are willing to listen, stated Donnie Dixon, a Savannah defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor.

Dixon, who is not involved in this case, said that "The operative question" is: "Is your opinion so fixed you couldn't get fair trial?" "The truth is that we don't know. However, if they use those magic words, it is possible for the judge to disqualify them.

After spotting Arbery running through their neighborhood, Travis McMichael and Greg McMichael, both father and son, set up camp and chased him in a pickup truck. William Bryan, a neighbor, joined the chase. He took cellphone video of Travis McMichael firing three shots at Arbery from close range using a shotgun.

Greg McMichael had just retired from a long career working as an investigator for the local district attorney. He told police that Arbery was previously recorded inside a nearby house and they believed he had been stealing. After Arbery attacked him, Travis McMichael shot Arbery.

The case was largely driven by outsiders until now. Bryan and McMichaels were not charged after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took control of the case from the local police. Greg McMichael's connections to the district attorney led to the appointment of outside prosecutors in metro Atlanta. Timothy Walmsley, a Superior Court Judge from Savannah, was also appointed to preside.

A jury will be seated in Glynn county, where 1000 jury duty notices were sent. This case will then be decided by those who are much closer to the victim.

Jury pool member no. 218, a retail worker, identified herself as Black and wrote on her juror questionnaire "a young man was killed due to his race and the three men who committed the act nearly got away."

In court, she said that she took part in a bike-ride to raise money for Arbery and her family following the shooting. While she told attorneys that she could be fair, she also stated that she believes they were guilty based on what her current knowledge is.

Arbery's murder has not preoccupied everyone who was called to jury duty. One woman who is self-employed said that she wouldn't listen to her husband when he tried to discuss the case. She also said that she doesn't read news or politics.

She is still a member of the jury pool.

Others were disqualified because they appeared too engaged. A woman claimed she saw Arbery running past her house not long before his death. The judge dismissed her. She described feeling emotionally connected with him and closely followed the pretrial court proceedings.

No. No. She continues to work as a clerk for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District attorney. Although she was not close to Greg McMichael, she stated that they were "always been around each other."

According to the woman, she looked at Greg McMichael’s personnel file as she was assigned with redacting personal information after news organizations asked for copies.

She stated to the judge and lawyers that she didn't have a strong opinion on the case. She offered no sympathy in her limited opinion.

No. 236 said. "That's all that bothers me about that particular day. I would have called 911 to let the police deal with it."

If there are enough people who have been summoned to the courthouse and continue to express strong opinions, defense lawyers could ask the judge for a halt to jury selection and to move the case to another Georgia county.

Don Samuel, an Atlanta defense lawyer who is not involved in this case, said that "It's easiest time to get change of venue." "If half of the randomly selected people are so biased that they can't even serve as jurors then you're talking to a community saturated by pretrial publicity."

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