Prosecutor Dunikoski made the controversial decision to down play the obvious racial aspects of Ahmaud Arbery’s February 23, 2020 shotgun murder by three white men who alleged they were making a Citizen’s Arrest. Her strategy before a Jury of 11 whites and one black was the right call.
Excellent feature on a veteran brought in from the Atlanta area to handle the Ahmaud Arbery trial. Must read for those who follow the law and want a perspective on a prosecutor who knows her job and does it well.
Excerpted from The New York Times 11.26.2021
BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The lawyer was from out of town, a prosecutor who had spent the bulk of her career in a large, liberal city, and she had been brought in to try the biggest case of her career: the murder of a Black man on a sunny afternoon by three white men just outside a small city pinned to the South Georgia coastline.
Despite the evidence of racism she had at her disposal, Linda Dunikoski, the prosecutor, stunned some legal observers by largely avoiding race during the trial, choosing instead to hew closely to the details of how the three men had chased the Black man, Ahmaud Arbery, through their neighborhood.
The risks went beyond her career and a single trial. Failure to convict in a case that many saw as an obvious act of racial violence would reverberate well outside Glynn County, Ga. For some, it would be a referendum on a country that appeared to have made tentative steps last summer toward confronting racism, only to devolve into deeper divisions.
On Wednesday, Ms. Dunikoski’s strategy was vindicated when the jury found the three men guilty of murder and other charges after deliberating for roughly a day. The convicted men — Gregory McMichael, 65; his son Travis McMichael, 35; and their neighbor William Bryan, 52 — are now facing life sentences in prison. They are also facing trial in February on separate federal hate-crime charges.
Kevin Gough, the lawyer who represented Mr. Bryan, credited Ms. Dunikoski with threading the most difficult of needles. She mentioned a racial motive just once during the three-week trial, in her closing argument: The men, she said, had attacked Mr. Arbery “because he was a Black man running down the street.”
“She found a clever way of bringing the issue up that wouldn’t be offensive to the right-leaning members of the jury,” he said. “I think you can see from the verdict that Dunikoski made the right call.”
Top photo – Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski meets the Press and public after the verdict.