Prosecutors in the trial of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers explain why they trusted the jury

Linda Dunikoski, Cobb County Senior Assistant District Attorney, told CNN’s Jim Acosta that after jurors were selected, her team realized we had very, very smart, very intelligent, honest jurors who would do their job, which is to apply the truth .”

“We felt that raising our case, it does not matter if they were black or white, that raising our case, that this jury would hear the truth, they would see the evidence, and that they would do the right thing and turn around. back with the correct verdict that we felt they did today, “Dunikoski said.

Nine white women, two white men and a black man sat on the jury, according to a CNN analysis of jury data. Historically, all-white juries in cases involving white people in the deaths of black men result in acquittals, according to researchers and law experts who spoke to CNN about the trial of Arbery’s killers.
The jury’s race composition was reminiscent of the Jim Crow era and quickly made comparisons with the aftermath of Emmett Till’s death, when an all-white jury in 1955 acquitted the two men arrested for Emmet’s murder, experts said.
'A jury should reflect the community:' The racial breakdown of the jury for the trial of Ahmaud Arbery's murder
But unlike the lawsuit against the two white men in 1955, the three were white men in 2021 all found guilty of multiple murders.
Race played a major role in this lawsuit, but prosecutors did not address it as much as the defense did. At one point during the closing arguments Monday, Laura Hogue, one of Gregory McMichael’s lawyers, provoked outrage in the courtroom to bring up Arbery’s toenails.

“Making Ahmaud Arbery a victim after the choices he made does not reflect the reality of what brought Ahmaud Arbery to Satilla Shores in his khaki shorts without socks to cover his long, dirty toenails,” Hogue told jurors.

Larissa Ollivierre, Cobb County’s assistant district attorney, told CNN on Wednesday that she was feeling bad about Arbery’s parents after Hogue’s statements.

“I think the comments were unnecessary and they were low and I just feel bad that Ahmaud’s mother and father had to sit there and listen to all those things,” Ollivierre said.

A lawyer in the Arbery death case tried to keep black priests out of court.  So more than 100 showed up today
And then there were the comments from Kevin Gough, attorney for William “Roddie” Bryan, who repeatedly protested against the presence of nationally recognized civil rights leaders at the trial to support Arbery’s family.

“We do not want more black priests to come in here … sitting with the victim’s family and trying to influence a jury in this case,” he said.

Dunikoski said Gough’s comments about black priests – even if they were made without the jury present – were strategic.

“Mr Gough is a very, very good lawyer, and he, in my opinion, purposefully and deliberately and strategically did what he did in an attempt to try to insert a potential error in the case, if he lost the case, and the went up in appeal, she said.

Although race played a big role inside and outside the courtroom, Dunikoski said she hoped what people took from this trial was that parents in a similar situation would trust the process and speak for their child.

“Wanda Cooper-Jones and Marcus Arbery (Arbery’s mother and father) were advocates for Ahmaud, and they really pushed for this when it first happened,” she said. “And I think the message is that one has to let the criminal justice system work, and in this case, yes, it worked, and to trust what they did, they trusted us, and they trusted that this team should bring justice to them and their family, but to trust the system of the constitution and fair process just to make it work. “

CNN’s Christina Maxouris, Travis Caldwell, Eliott C. McLaughlin, Devon M. Sayers, Alta Spells, Steve Almasy, Nicole Chavez, and Brandon Tensley contributed to this report.

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