Ga. Attorney General appoints new DA to handle Ahmaud Arbery case

Ahmaud Arbery
Ahmaud Arbery(WMC)
Updated: May. 11, 2020 at 1:46 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (WTOC) - Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr has appointed the fourth district attorney to lead the prosecution of two men charged with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.

Cobb County Judicial Circuit District Attorney Joyette Holmes is now taking over the case.

“I appreciate District Attorney Tom Durden’s involvement in the Ahmaud Arbery case,” Carr said in a statement. “This case has grown in size and magnitude since he accepted the appointment on April 13, 2020, and as an experienced District Attorney, Tom has recognized that another office is better suited from a resource perspective to now handle the case. As a result, he has requested our office to appoint another District Attorney.”

Carr said the move is more about resources and experience within the Cobb County DA's office.

“Our office will immediately gather all materials related to the investigation thus far and continue to seek additional information to move this case forward,” Holmes said in a statement. “We appreciate the confidence that Attorney General Carr has in our office’s ability to bring to light the justice that this case deserves.”

Durden made the decision on May 5 that he thought the case should go to a grand jury after he was requested to review the case.

Durden was the third prosecutor to handle the case. The Brunswick prosecutor recused herself given the McMichaels’ connection to her office. Gregory worked at the Glynn County Police Department in the 80s and spent more than two decades as an investigator with the Brunswick DA.

A second prosecutor, Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill, recused himself in early April. Barnhill wrote to the state attorney general that his son and Gregory McMichael had helped with a previous prosecution of Arbery. It is not known if Gregory McMichael remembered or recognized Arbery at the time of the incident.

Carr says it’s incumbent on prosecutors to share information like that when they take an appointment over a case. His office is now reviewing how the two prosecutors handled the case.

“I can’t speak to the specifics of our investigation, but that is part of what we’re looking into. In addition, it’s why I’ve asked the US Attorney for the Southern District, Bobby Christine, to get involved as well," Carr said.

The move comes as Federal prosecutors are reviewing evidence to see if hate-crime charges apply. They’re also considering a request from Carr to review how the two district attorneys handled Arbery’s case initially.

“There may be federal law that’s implicated that’s outside of our jurisdiction, but that is the role of the US Attorney to ensure that federal law was followed," Carr said. "Our job is at the state level so there are two different legal possibilities, two different paths that we could take.”

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested 64-year-old Gregory McMichael and 34-year-old Travis McMichael on May 7. Both are charged with felony murder and aggravated assault.

Back in February, 25-year-old Arbery was shot and killed in a Brunswick neighborhood. Police reports say he was shot by a man, now identified as Travis McMichael, who believed Arbery was a burglar after a string of break-ins in the area.

The report says Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis, chased Arbery in a truck and the men claim the son shot Arbery in self-defense.

Arbery's family said he was out for a jog when he was shot and did nothing wrong.

The case has gotten national attention after the release of the video showing the controversial shooting. In the video, Arbery is seen running behind a truck that is stopped. One man is outside of the truck on the driver’s side holding a shotgun and another man is in the bed of the truck with a handgun.

Arbery runs around the passenger side of the truck and then in front of the truck where you can't see what is happening for a moment.

Arbery and the man outside of the truck are then seen struggling. Three shots are fired. Arbery collapses and the video ends.

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