“Anyone with warm blood in their veins who witnessed the video and knew the background to what had happened knew it was wrong,” King said.
The affair, from the outset, echoed painful themes in the Great South. The murder of a black by armed whites, presented to a jury which included only one black. The rest was white. The jury had been put in place following protests from Ms Dunikoski, who had tried unsuccessfully to prevent potential black jurors from being removed during the selection process by defense lawyers. It was also a painful time for Glynn County, a predominantly white county that remains marked by the legacy of segregation.
His county seat, Brunswick, received praise decades ago for the way its black and white leaders worked together to integrate schools and public amenities. But the selection of such a racially lopsided jury had sparked anger and mistrust in a county where more than one in four residents are black. Close to Brunswick are 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.
Prior to the trial, Ms Dunikoski, who is 54 and declined to be interviewed, had spent her career largely in the Atlanta metropolitan area, earning a reputation as a tenacious prosecutor pursuing murderers, members of the gangs and sex offenders. By the end of the trial, she had won the trust of the Arbery family so deeply that they came to call her Aunt Linda.
The case took a tortuous path before it landed in Ms Dunikowski’s lap. Two local district attorney’s offices dealt with the case initially, but both eventually withdrew, citing conflicts of interest; one of the former prosecutors, Jackie Johnson, has been criminally indicted for his handling of the case. It was in the hands of a third prosecutor’s office before it was moved to the more resource-rich Cobb County, where Ms Dunikoski has worked since 2019.
Prior to joining the Cobb County office, Ms Dunikoski had spent over 17 years as a district attorney in Fulton County, where one of her most high-profile cases was the trial of a group of school teachers public in Atlanta who were convicted in 2015 of racketeering. and other fees for modifying the results of standardized student tests. Critics said prosecutors proposed a group of mostly black educators as scapegoats for a school district that had much deeper systemic issues.
In 2009, according to the Associated Press, Ms Dunikoski was jailed by a judge for failing to pay a $ 100 fine after the judge cited her for contempt. The county’s chief prosecutor at the time reportedly got into a fight with the judge, arguing that he had unfairly damaged the reputation of an honest lawyer.