How a prosecutor addressed a mostly white jury and won a sentence in the Arbery case

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How a prosecutor addressed a mostly white jury and won a sentence in the Arbery case

“Anyone who has hot blood in their veins, who watched the video and knew the context around what happened, knew it was wrong,” Mr. King said.

The case, from the outset, resonated with painful themes in the Deep South. The murder of a black man with guns by white men, presented before a jury that included only one black man. The rest were white. The jury was set to oppose Ms Dunnikowski, who unsuccessfully tried to prevent potential black jurors from being removed during the selection process by defense attorneys. It was also a painful moment for Glynn County, a majority-white county marked by a legacy of segregation.

Its county seat, Brunswick, had, decades ago, earned praise for the way its black and white leaders worked together to integrate schools and public facilities. But such a racially one-sided jury selection had sparked anger and distrust in a county where more than one in four residents is black. Neighboring Brunswick is home to four barrier islands known as the Golden Isles, a popular tourist destination that is also home to some of the wealthiest people in the country.

Before the trial, Ms. Dunnikowski, who is 54 and declined to be interviewed, had spent her career largely in the Atlanta metropolitan area, as a tough-minded prosecutor following murderers, gang members and sex offenders. established a reputation. By the end of the trial, she had won the trust of the Arbery family so deeply that they began to call her Aunt Linda.

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The case took a rough road before landing on Ms Dunnikowski’s lap. The two local district attorneys’ offices initially handled the case, but both eventually withdrew themselves, citing conflicts of interest; One of the former prosecutors, Jackie Johnson, has been charged with criminal handling of the case. It was in the hands of the third DA’s office before being passed on to the more resource-rich Cobb County, where Ms Dunnikowski has worked since 2019.

Before joining the Cobb County office, Ms. Duninowski spent more than 17 years as a prosecutor in Fulton County, where one of her highest-profile cases was the trial of a group of Atlanta public school teachers, which took place in 2015. was found guilty of racketeering. and other charges to replace standardized test scores of students. Critics said prosecutors had offered a group of mostly black teachers as scapegoats for a school district that had deep systemic problems.

According to The Associated Press, in 2009, Dunikowski was jailed for failing to pay a $100 fine after a judge cited her for contempt. The chief county prosecutor at the time reportedly argued with the judge in a shout-out match that he had unjustly damaged the reputation of an honest lawyer.

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