A new prosecutor has been assigned to the Ahmaud Arbery case for the fourth time since the 25-year-old was shot dead by two white men while out jogging in Glynn County, Georgia in February. Joyette Holmes, the district attorney of Cobb County, has now been assigned the case following the release of a viral video of the Feb. 23 killing of Arbery that caused national outrage and led to cries for justice.
Holmes, who is a republican, is the first black woman to serve in her current position as district attorney, and she was appointed on Monday to the role of new lead prosecutor in the case by Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr. Holmes has led the Cobb County District Attorney’s office since July. She was a prosecutor and attorney in the county before being appointed to her current position.
"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 of her assignment. "We appreciate the confidence that Attorney General Carr has in our office’s ability to bring to light the justice that this case deserves."
A white father and son, Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, are charged with aggravated assault and murder in Arbery’s death. The duo, however, wasn’t arrested until last Thursday, 10 weeks after the alleged crime, but just two days after the Georgia Bureau of Investigations took over the case.
According to an incident report filed by Glynn County police around the time of the incident, the elder McMichael said they thought Arbery matched the description of someone caught on a security camera committing recent break-ins in the area. They said armed themselves with guns before getting in a truck to pursue him. The elder McMichael told police the jogger "violently" attacked his son, and the two fought over Travis' shotgun, with Travis shooting Arbery twice.
Neither man has commented to news media about the shooting.
Gregory McMichael is a retired police detective, causing some conflicts of interest in who would prosecute the case. Initially, it was assigned to Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson, who later recused herself because Gregory McMichael had worked in her office for years, according to multiple reports.
Waycross District Attorney George Barnhill recused himself because his son had also worked in DA Johnson’s office, according to reports. Barnhill had said the case had “no grounds for arrests” and the McMichaels’ actions were “were justified under self-defense and citizens arrest laws.”
Hinesville District Attorney Tom Durden then took over the case on April 14, but then was replaced by Holmes after Attorney General Carr said Durden realized “another office is better suited from a resource perspective to now handle the case,” per the New York Times.
It was Durden who asked for GBI's involvement in the case, after which the father and son arrests were made. The Arbery family was pleased with the appointment.
“In order for justice to be carried out both effectively and appropriately in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, it is imperative that the special prosecutor has no affiliation with the Southeast Georgia legal or law enforcement communities,' the family’s attorney Benjamin Crump said in a statement.
He asked that Holmes be “zealous in her search for justice.”