BRUNSWICK, Ga. - Opening statements will begin Monday in the federal hate crimes trial of the three men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery.
Travis McMichael, his father Greg McMichael, and their neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan will be back in court facing federal hate crimes charges in connection to the death.
U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood said Friday she’s ready to start the trial with 64 people deemed qualified to serve as impartial jurors. That pool will be narrowed to a main jury of 12 plus four alternates Monday.
It will be the second time the port city of Brunswick, on the Georgia coast south of Savannah, has held a trial in Arbery’s killing since November, when the same three defendants were convicted of murder in a Georgia state court.
Defendant Travis McMichael observes court proceedings during the trial for Ahmaud Arberys shooting death at the Glynn County Courthouse on November 8, 2021 in Brunswick, Georgia.(Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
More than 160 potential jurors were questioned last week about the federal case. Because this is a federal trial, no cameras will be allowed in the courthouse.
"I don’t think you will see the same type of publicity you saw with the state case," former federal prosecutor Bill Thomas told FOX 5.
Thomas says witnesses from the state could be called back to testify for this case.
"I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if there were other investigative agencies like the FBI instead of the GBI," he said.
Federal prosecutors are expected to argue that Arbery was targeted because he was Black. The defense claimed in the state case that the three men were justified in their actions and acted out of self-defense.
"You are looking at different charges here. They were charged with murder in the state, but here they are charged with a number of offenses involved with Mr. Arbery’s civil rights," Thomas said.
Ahmaud Arbery (Family photo)
The prosecution's evidence is also expected to include text messages and social media posts made by the defendants.
All three defendants have pleaded not guilty in this trial. Greg and Travis McMichael had originally pleaded guilty after making a plea bargain with federal officials but took the guilty plea back after a judge rejected the deal.
Officials expect the trial to last anywhere from seven to 12 days with the prosecution expected to call its first witness on Tuesday.