Jury Adjourns in Arbery Murder Trial: Live Updates


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Local clergy prayed and supporters sang moments before court wrapped up for the day. Soon after, protestors began taking down tents and signs with Ahmaud Arbery’s name and photo on them.

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Supporters of the Arbery family, many of whom had been outside since morning, said they were feeling optimistic about a guilty verdict. People made plans to return Wednesday morning.

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There was a moment of whiplash in the courtroom, when the judge and lawyers returned, with observers thinking that the verdict might be back. Ahmaud Arbery’s family was making its way back to court when the judge said that the jurors were ready to go home for the night.

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The judge and others are returning to the courtroom. After further discussion among jurors, they changed their minds and are ready to take a break, the judge says. The jury is being brought back into the courtroom for dismissal for the day.

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Court is adjourned. Jurors will return tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. The judge instructs them not to talk about the case during the overnight break.

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The judge tells the court he is going to call the jury foreperson to ask if a verdict is imminent. If it is not, court will break for the day and deliberations will resume tomorrow at 8:30 a.m.

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The jury has been deliberating for more than five hours. The foreperson tells the judge that the jury is in the process of working to reach a verdict, but agrees that breaking for the day would be best.

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After consulting the other jurors, the foreperson now says the jury wants to continue despite the judge’s intention to send everyone home. So he allows the jurors to keep deliberating.

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transcript

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Judge Allows Nearly All-White Jury

Judge Timothy R. Walmsley of Glynn County Superior Court acknowledged that many Black jurors were excused by the defense. The jury is made up of 11 members who are white and one who is Black.

This court has found that there appears to be intentional discrimination in the panel. That’s that prima facie case. And I guess before I get into this, one of the challenges that I think counsel recognize in this case is the racial overtones in the case. Quite a few African American jurors were excused through preemptory strikes exercised by the defense, but that doesn’t mean that the court has the authority to reseat. The court is in a position where it’s got to make another finding, which is that the defendants are not genuine when they gave reason, and that the reason they were claiming is not the real reason those particular jurors were struck. The court is not going to place upon the defendants of finding that they are being disingenuous to the court or otherwise are not being truthful with the court, when it comes to their reasons for striking these jurors. So because of that and because of, again, the limitations I think [unclear] places upon this court’s analysis, I’m denying the motion.

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Judge Timothy R. Walmsley of Glynn County Superior Court acknowledged that many Black jurors were excused by the defense. The jury is made up of 11 members who are white and one who is Black.CreditCredit…Pool photo by Elijah Nouvelage

The jury that will decide the fate of the three white men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery is composed of 11 members who are white and one who is Black.

The lopsided balance — especially in a case that has been widely perceived as an act of racial violence — has been a cause of concern for civil rights activists. And it prompted legal experts in recent days to speculate that the racial makeup of the jury played a role in prosecutors’ decision not to make racial animus part of their case against Mr. Arbery’s assailants.

How did such a jury get chosen?

Even as he approved the selection of jurors earlier this month, Judge Timothy R. Walmsley of Glynn County Superior Court, who is presiding in the trial, declared that there was an appearance of “intentional discrimination” at play.

But Judge Walmsley also said that defense lawyers had presented legitimate reasons, unrelated to race, to justify unseating eight Black potential jurors.

And that, the judge said, was enough for him to reject the prosecution’s effort to reseat them.

What may have seemed like convoluted logic to non-lawyers was actually the judge’s scrupulous adherence to a 35-year-old Supreme Court decision that was meant to remove racial bias from the jury selection process — but has come to be considered a failure by many legal scholars.

The guidelines established by that ruling, Batson v. Kentucky, were central to the intense legal fight that erupted in court over the issue. The argument raised fundamental questions about what it means to be a fair and impartial juror, particularly in a high-profile trial unfolding in a small community where nearly everyone has opinions about the case.

Defense lawyers told Judge Walmsley there were numerous reasons to unseat several Black candidates for the jury. One man, they said, had played high school football with Mr. Arbery. Another told lawyers that “this whole case is about racism.”

But the resulting makeup of the jury profoundly dismayed some local residents who already had concerns about whether the trial will be fair.

“This jury is like a black eye to those of us who have been here for generations, whose ancestors labored and toiled and set a foundation for this community,” said Delores Polite, a community activist and distant relative of Mr. Arbery.

More broadly, the racially lopsided jury, in a county that is about 27 percent Black and 64 percent white, underscores the enduring challenges that American courts face in applying what seems to be a simple constitutional principle: that equal justice “requires a criminal trial free of racial discrimination in the jury selection process,” as Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh put it in a ruling from 2019.

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Credit…Nicole Craine for The New York Times

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — As the jury began deliberations Tuesday in the trial over the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, local leaders and out-of-town supporters of the Arbery family said that they were anxious, but held out hope that the defendants would be convicted of at least some charges.

“On one hand, we are hopeful that the outcome will end in a verdict that says all three men are guilty,” said John Perry III, a local pastor. “But now that we are waiting for the verdict to come through, there’s a heaviness of heart, because we don’t know what that verdict will be.”

The small crowd outside the courthouse included friends and relatives of the Arbery family and the same local activists who have appeared regularly since the trial began nearly two weeks ago. The group, numbering a few dozen on Tuesday, was smaller than Monday’s crowd, which was made up largely of out-of-town protesters and members of the New Black Panther Party. Mr. Arbery’s family and their lawyers asked on Monday evening that people gathered outside the courthouse remain peaceful.

Supporters of the Arbery family said on Tuesday that they thought the prosecutor, Linda Dunikoski, had done a good job throughout the trial, but that the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wis., last week made them nervous about how things would go in Brunswick.

Marcus Arbery, Ahmaud Arbery’s father, said that what he had seen in the courtroom was “devastating,” and that he felt confident that the jury would return a guilty verdict. Wanda Cooper-Jones, Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, said she thought Ms. Dunikoski’s closing arguments were “fantastic” and that the prosecutor had presented the evidence well.

“I do think that we will come back with a guilty verdict, and I want to leave with this: God has brought us this far, and he’s not going to fail us now,” Ms. Cooper-Jones said. “We will get justice for Ahmaud.”

Her lawyer, Lee Merritt, echoed her sentiments. “We’re confident that this jury will seriously consider all the evidence and come back…



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