JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Ahmaud Arbery’s killers will be one step closer to their federal hate crimes trial after the final pretrial hearing on Monday.
Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan were recently sentenced to life in prison for Arbery’s 2020 shooting death. The federal case is to determine if racism was a factor in Arbery’s death.
News4JAX spoke with attorney Reginald Reeves who is not affiliated with this case.
“It’s a different standard in this case. It’s going to be more based around motivation and biasedness,” said Reeves.
Investigators said Arbery was shot and killed after the McMichaels chased him down in the Satilla Shores neighborhood. Bryan took the video of the shooting. An investigator testified at an earlier pretrial hearing that Bryan said he heard Travis utter a racial slur as Arbery laid on the ground. A judge agreed to a request that the outcome of the state criminal case is not discussed during the federal trial. Reeves said prosecutors will look into if the three men have a history of racism.
“It can be any of it, tattoos, racial slurs, online activity, people that know them so that’s what this case will be about,” said Reeves.
Reeves said jury selection could take a couple of weeks and finding an impartial jury could be a challenge.
“Everybody has heard this case and trial and if you live in Georgia especially you will be familiar with this trial. They will expand the jury pool from bigger than the county and get people from that federal district. I believe there are about 40 counties that are available to pull a jury from,” said Reeves.
The final pretrial hearing is set for Monday. Jury selection for the federal trial begins on Feb. 7.