As we approach the three-month mark since the February 23rd shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in Satilla Shores south of Brunswick, details are finally starting to emerge and actions have been set in motion. Due to public outrage surrounding the release of the video capturing Arbery’s last moments, a case that was once assumed to be buried has now been thrust into the national spotlight.
On Monday, the Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr appointed District Attorney Joyette M. Holmes of Cobb County Judicial Circuit to lead the prosecution of the case. Holmes is the fourth DA to handle the case since its onset. The first two DA’s assigned to the case, Jackie Johnson of Brunswick JC and George E. Barnhill of Waycross JC, recused themselves due to previous work connections with one of the suspects, Gregory McMichael, a retired police officer. McMichael previously worked as an investigator in Johnson’s office and worked with Barnhill’s son in the Brunswick District Attorney’s office. Barnhill resigned under pressure from Arbery’s mother.
Holmes takes the reigns from the DA assigned in April, Tom Durden of the Atlantic Judicial Circuit, who requested the case be reassigned after the video surfaced, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations was assigned to the case, the McMichaels were arrested, and the investigation gained national recognition. Joyette Holmes became Cobb County’s first female and African-American district attorney after she was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp last June.
The attorneys for Arbery’s mother, Lee Merritt and Chris Stewart, acknowledged the decision in a statement on Monday. “This case has been mishandled from the very beginning and we look forward to a comprehensive third-party investigation by the Dept. of Justice into the previous prosecutors.”
As it stands, Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, were arrested last Thursday on charges of felony murder and aggravated assault after a viral video showed them corner Ahmaud Arbery in the middle of a run with trucks and guns. The Mc- Michael’s say that they were following Arbery, 25, after he refused to comply with their orders on suspicion he was a suspect committing a string of robberies in the neighborhood.
A security video surfaced on Saturday, showing someone that appeared to be Arbery entering a construction site minutes before the shooting. He does not appear to take anything or commit any criminal activity and the owner of the site, Larry English, did not call 911 on the day of the shooting as he lives miles away in Douglas with his family. His attorney, J. Elizabeth Grady said, “Even if there had been a robbery, however, the English family would not have wanted a vigilante response. They would have entrusted the matter to law enforcement authorities.”
The GBI is also looking into the involvement of a third man who recorded the video, William “Roddie” Bryan. Bryan maintains that he had no involvement in any plan, but also wouldn’t reveal how he ended up on the scene.