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Defense in trial for Ahmaud Arbery killing wants more 'Bubbas' and 'Joe six-packs' on jury

A man and his son are accused of killing Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, after following him in their pickup truck in February 2020. The trial began in October.
Image: People participate in a demonstration called by nonprofit organization Transformative Justice Coalition demanding justice for Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Ga., on Oct. 22, 2021.
People participate in a demonstration called by nonprofit organization Transformative Justice Coalition demanding justice for Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Ga., on Oct. 22, 2021.Octavio Jones / Reuters

The jury qualification process in the case over the killing of Ahmaud Arbery finished Tuesday, but one of the defense lawyers has concerns there aren’t enough “Bubbas or Joe six-packs” in the group of more than 60 potential jurors.

Travis McMichael, 35, and his father, Gregory McMichael, 65, are accused of killing Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, after following him in their pickup truck in February 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia. A third man, William Bryan, who filmed the deadly shooting is also facing a murder charge. Arbery’s family has said he was out jogging. The McMichaels, who have been accused of being motivated by racial animus, have said they thought Arbery was a burglar. Bryan has argued that he was just a witness. The three were also indicted under federal hate crime and kidnapping laws.

The trial began Oct. 18 in Chatham County Superior Court and has been delayed by the lengthy jury selection process that is finally nearing its close. On Wednesday, jury selection moved to the qualification process in which the 65 selected jurors would be whittled down to 12 jurors and four alternates.

A lawyer for Bryan expressed skepticism over the pool of potential jurors, saying it lacked white men over 40 without a four-year college degree.

Kevin Gough, the defense attorney representing Bryan, called this demographic “Bubbas or Joe six-packs” in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“We want a diverse jury,” he said. “But we’re missing a segment of what would normally be here.”

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski had previously said she was searching for “blank slate” jurors from the county but acknowledged how difficult they were to find given the high-profile of the case.

Arbery’s killing prompted widespread outrage and national attention after the video of the fatal shooting was leaked in May 2020.

In the video, Arbery, a former high school athlete and avid jogger, is seen jogging down a road as a white pickup truck is stopped in front of him. He runs around the vehicle, and a shot is fired. The video then shows Arbery and another man appearing to tussle as two more shots are fired.

NBC News does not know what occurred before the events shown in the video.

Later that month, Gregory McMichael claimed to have helped leak the video because he wanted “the public to know the truth,” according to his attorney.