Ahmaud Arbery Remembered on His 27th Birthday, Trial Date Set for Men Charged With His Killing

One day after a Georgia judget set an October jury selection date for the slain jogger, the family of Ahmaud Arbery marked what would have been his 27th birthday by launching a foundation in his name Saturday.

Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was killed on February 23, 2020, in Brunswick, Georgia, as he ran through the neighborhood of two white defendants who said they chased and shot him, believing he was a nearby burglary suspect. Greg McMichael and his adult son, Travis McMichael, armed themselves with several guns and pursued the jogging Arbery in a pickup truck. Cell phone video recorded by neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan oversaw the close-range shooting death of Arbery.

Georgia authorities failed to make a case until two months after the incident, when Bryan's video became public and sparked public outrage.

Now more than one year later, Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley said Saturday that jury selection will begin for the trial of the McMaster father-and-son duo on October 18. The trial is expected to commence following the voir dire process.

"There is not one attorney in this case that wants it to be delayed any further," said Jason Sheffield, one of Travis McMichael's defense lawyers, as the Associated Press reported. "We are eager to finally have an opportunity to fairly disclose the full truth about the circumstances and the events that led up to this incredible tragedy."

Lawyers and court officials are weighing whether an impartial jury can be found in coastal Glynn County, where the shooting occurred last February. But defense attorneys have said they are prepared to ask Judge Walmsley to move the trial should media influence be considered too great.

On Saturday, family and activists gathered for the event dubbed the Ahmaud Arbery Financial and Mental Freedom Drive-Up Festival. One of the primary focuses of speakers and organizers was giveaways and donations tied to Arbery's namesake foundation, launched Saturday, which aims to help minorities between 7 and 17 years old with financial, mental and physical wellness.

Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery's mother, told WSB-TV her son was always passionate about helping others improve their overall wellbeing.

"The fight for justice for Ahmaud has really been a battle," Cooper-Jones said at the Saturday event held on what would have been Arbery's 27th birthday. "We first went 74 days without any arrests. Last year on his birthday, we had only had the arrests within two days, so I wasn't able to celebrate his life at that point. But things have settled down. It's bittersweet, but I just wanted to celebrate his life today."

Newsweek reached out to representatives for the Arbery family as well as Georgia Bureau of Investigation officials Sunday morning.

Ahmaud Arbery protest
Demonstrators gather at the Glynn County courthouse during a court appearance by Gregory and Travis McMichael, two suspects in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, on June 4 in Brunswick, Georgia Sean Rayford/Getty