Members of the media gather outside the Glynn County Courthouse on November 24, as Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan are found guilty of murder for the death of Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Ga. File Photo by James Gilbert/EPA-EFE
Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Attorneys are seeking a broader jury pool for the hate crimes trial over the killing of Ahmaud Arbery on Feb. 23, 2020, due to pretrial publicity.
The hate crime trial is slated for Feb. 7, 2022 in U.S. District Court, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
It follows the conviction last month of three White men on murder charges for killing the unarmed 25-year-old Black man who was jogging through the Satilla Shores neighborhood outside Brunswick, Ga., near his home.
Travis McMichael, 35, his father Greg McMichael, 65, and neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan, 52, chased Arbery down in their pickup trucks, boxing him in before the younger McMichael fired the fatal shots. Along with the murder charges, the three men were also convicted on aggravated assault, and false imprisonment charges.
The sentencing date for the state case, for which the three defendants face mandatory terms of life in prison, is slated for 10 a.m. on Jan. 7, 2022, according to a notice of the sentencing hearing obtained by obtained by First Coast News.
Publicity from the trial has likely led to jurors in the seven-county Brunswick division forming "immutable opinions" about the case hindering their ability to be fair and impartial, according to a joint motion filed by federal prosecutors and defense attorneys from Justice Department's civil rights division and U.S. attorney's office in Savannah obtained by the AJC.
Attorneys on both sides of the case said in the motion a broader jury pool from the Southern District's 43-county area was needed for an impartial jury.
Travis McMichael's attorney, Amy Lee Copeland, asked in a separate motion for the trial to be held in another courthouse in the Southern District instead of the federal courthouse in Brunswick, the AJC reported.
After the McMichaels and Bryan were charged in separate state proceedings on the murder, aggravated assault, and false imprisonment charges, a federal grand jury charged the three men with hate crimes and attempted kidnapping in connection with the death of Arbery.
The hate crimes indictment alleges that the defendants used force and threats of force to intimidate and interfere with Arbery's right to use a public street because of his race.
Count One of the indictment alleges that the McMichaels got into a truck and chased Arbery through the Satilla Shores neighborhood while yelling at him, using their truck to cut off his route, and threatening him with firearms, and the offense resulted in Arbery's death. Count Two alleges that Bryan joined the chase and used his truck to cut off Arbery's route.
If found guilty, the hate crime charges could result in a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Federal prosecutors noted during pretrial hearings in the state case that the three defendants used racially inflammatory texts and posted bigoted links on social media.
Bryan said in an interview with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation after the killing that Travis McMichael used the n-word as he stood over Arbery while he was dying.
While the jury did not hear such evidence and testimony related to bigotry in the state case, federal prosecutors are expected to present it in the hate crimes trial.