May 11 (UPI) — Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr appointed Monday a fourth district attorney to lead the prosecution against two white men charged with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.
In a statement, Carr said he appointed District Attorney Joyette Holmes to lead the homicide case against Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, who have been charged with killing Arbery, a 25-year-old black man who was shot to death while jogging in broad daylight.
“District Attorney Holmes is a respected attorney with experience, both as a lawyer and a judge, and the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office has the resources personnel and experience to lead this prosecution and ensure justice is done,” Carr said.
Holmes said she accepted the request.
“Our office will immediately gather all materials related to the investigation thus far and continue to seek additional information to move this case forward,” she 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.”
Holmes is the fourth prosecutor in a case that has garnered national attention and anger and has seen two previous prosecutors recuse themselves due to conflicts of interest.
Benjamin Crump, a lawyer representing the Arbery family, said in a statement it is “imperative” any special prosecutor appointed must have no affiliation with South Georgia legal or law enforcement communities to ensure justice is appropriately carried out.
“We implore District Attorney Joyette Holmes to be zealous in her search for justice, as she works to hold all of those responsible for the unjustifiable execution of an unarmed young black man in broad daylight,” Crump said.
Carr said he appointed Holmes, the first black district attorney for Cobb County, as the case has “grown in size and magnitude” since District Attorney Tom Durden accepted it in mid-April.
The McMichaels were arrested by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation late last week and charged with murder and aggravated assault nearly 80 days after Arbery was killed.
The arrests followed video of the shooting released online showing the two armed men confronting Arbery, sparking national outrage and demands from civil rights groups and the public for answers over the case’s handling and why it took nearly two months for the McMichaels to be arrested.
The Justice Department also announced Monday it is considering whether federal hate crimes are appropriate and has asked for federal authorities to forward any information on the handling of the case.
“We will continue to assess all information, and we will take any appropriate action that is warranted by the facts and the law,” Department of Justice spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement.
The elder McMichael told police after the shooting that they had suspected Arbery of having committed a series of break-ins in the community.
The first prosecutor on the case, Jackie Johnson, recused herself from the case due to the elder McMicahel having worked under her as an investigator at her office.
The second prosecutor, George Barnhill of Waycross County, later recused himself from the case as his son works in the Brunswick District Attorney’s Office and had prosecuted Arbery in a prior case, which the senior McMichael had also worked as an investigator.
However, Barnhill had said the McMichaels were acting in self-defense when Arbery was killed and advised no charges be laid.
Durden was then appointed to the case and requested GBI to investigate Arbery’s death on May 5. Two days later, the men were arrested.