ATLANTA (CBS46) — Week one of jury selection ended Thursday night in the trial against the men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery. After four days of questioning, 23 jurors have qualified to move forward to the next phase of questioning to see who will be in the group that will determine the fate of Gregory and Travis McMichael and William Bryan for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.   

Attorneys are aiming to get 64 potential jurors into a last round of questioning, so that if attorneys use all of their allotted strikes, or dismissals, there will still be 12 jurors and 4 alternates remaining.

Overwhelmingly this week, most jurors revealed they already decided who is guilty in the case--many have been dismissed for it their opinions at this stage of the trial. 

"I have personally been surprised at how many people have a strong opinion about guilt or innocence already in the case before hearing the evidence," said CBS46 legal analyst Page Pate.

Defense attorneys initially indicated they wanted to try the case in Brunswick, thinking the community there would be more favorable for them.  

"I think the defense lawyers assumed that the demographics of Glynn County would be in their favor and I think that has proven to not be the case," Pate said. He added that's it's good for both sides that jurors are being so honest and forthcoming.

As each day progressed, dozens of potential jurors described as white and middle-aged who also support gun-use have told the courts they believe the shooting was wrong. 

“Even most of those people that have been questioned seem to already believe the prosecution’s case and have already decided that the defense’s strategy of saying, 'it was a citizen’s arrest,' is just not going to play well. So, I think that is probably a surprise for the defense,” Pate said.

Arbery’s family has been greeted by activists each day outside the courthouse. Activists from the Transformative Justice Coalition and community supporters shouted chants of support and gave hugs to the Arbery familyas they walked into court.

Kevin Gough, William Bryan’s attorney raised the demonstrations as an issue, as well as buttons the family wore that showed the image of John Lewis with the phrase, “make good trouble” on them. Judge Walmsley asked court guests not to wear any buttons with political logos or statements into the courtroom

“I’m going to ask anyone who comes in the gallery, whether or not you have any particular feeling or opinion about the case, this is not the place to display it,” the Walmsley stated, according to the pool reporter.

Gough also asked Walmsley to prohibit the protests from outside concerned it could influence jurors to be against the defendants.

“Protestors and the other people who may just be concerned citizens have an absolute right to voice their opinions at the courthouse,” Pate told CBS46. “But, the defense also have a constitutional right to a fair trial; so there is some tension there, and to what extent does that effect the jury is to be determined.”

Pate says next week will give a more clear picture of the potential juror pool, and if a fair trial in Brunswick will be likely. 

“Out of all the people that have been interviewed, at least one person saw the video and still thought that it supported the defense, so there are still people out there, that’s why jury selection is so important, in determining who will see this in a totally different way,” Pate stated, “Jury selection here is going to determine who wins or loses this trial,” he continued.

Jury selection was cancelled Friday due to a scheduling conflict with one of the attorneys. Questioning will resume Monday morning in Brunswick.

Copyright 2021 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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