Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes has been appointed to lead the prosecution of two Georgia men charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old black man who was fatally shot in February while jogging. Holmes is now the third prosecutor assigned to the case that has garnered national outcry and calls for the Department of Justice to investigate how it has been handled since Feb. 23. The change of leadership comes after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on Thursday arrested and charged Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, with murder and aggravated assault, two days after graphic video footage of the deadly attack went viral.
Former police officer Gregory McMichael was an investigator for the Brunswick District Attorney’s Office until 2019, prompting Brunswick DA Jackie Johnson to become one of two prosecutors to recuse themselves from the case. On Saturday, the National District Attorneys Association condemned the other prosecutor, DA George Barnhill, who exonerated the McMichaels on April 3 after he concluded the crime was “justifiable homicide.” Barnhill withdrew from the probe three days later, after revealing his personal connection. “No prosecutor should inject his or her opinion into a pending case to the point where she or he becomes a potential witness and risks compromising the just outcome of a case,” the association that has 5,000 members said in a statement obtained by The Daily Beast. “We must strongly disagree with District Attorney George Barnhill’s decision to share his opinion of whether Greg and Travis McMichael should be arrested after he decided to recuse himself from the case.”