Georgia AG appoints new prosecutor in Ahmaud Arbery case

ATLANTA — Channel 2′s Richard Belcher was the first to break the story that Georgia’s attorney general has appointed a new prosecutor in the Ahmaud Arbery case.

Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was killed by a father and son as he jogged through their Glynn County neighborhood back in February. A video shot on a cellphone showed the confrontation between Arbery and the McMichaels after they confronted him with guns. It took 74 days for the McMichaels to be arrested for Arbery’s death.

The McMichaels suspected Arbery had broken into a home nearby that is under construction. Channel 2 Action News obtained video that shows a man who appears to be Arbery entering the home. Authorities said the McMichaels, thinking he was a burglary suspect, pursued him.

Arbery was killed moments later.

On Monday, Attorney General Chris Carr named Cobb District Attorney Joyette Holmes to take over the case from special prosecutor Thomas Durden. Durden has recused himself from the case.

Carr officially made the announcement around 1:30 p.m.

“I appreciate District Attorney Tom Durden’s involvement in the Ahmaud Arbery case,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “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.

“Today, our office formally appointed District Attorney Joyette M. Holmes of the Cobb County Judicial Circuit to lead the prosecution. 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.”

Channel 2′s Tony Thomas spoke to Carr about his decision to appoint Holmes.

“From my perspective, it is to make sure we look at this from all angles and make sure the law was followed," Carr said. “The most important thing is we make sure justice is done. She’s been a prosecutor, a defense attorney and she’s been a judge.”

Thomas asked Carr how important it was to get the case out of the hands of someone in southeast Georgia and with no ties to the area.


“The most important thing was resources and experience, and obviously DA Durden didn’t have the resources,” Carr said.

S. Lee Merritt and L. Chris Stewart, attorneys for Arbery’s mother, released the following statement Monday:

"We recently learned that Georgia AG Chris Carr has appointed Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes as prosecutor, replacing Thomas Durden. We made this request of AG Chris Carr because the south Georgia prosecutorial community was tainted by the delay in action prior to the video being released.

The family is pleased that Mr. Durden will no longer be responsible for prosecuting two of the killers of Mr. Arbery.

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.

Ms. Holmes just spoke with Ms. Cooper-Jones and we are cautiously optimistic about this turn of events. We remain committed to the pursuit of justice for Mr. Arbery’s family and will provide any assistance necessary to Ms. Holmes in her new role."

Atlanta NAACP Vice President Gerald Griggs applauds Carr’s decision.

“The DOJ is going to look at everything that happened, whether that’s the investigation, whether that’s the alleged cover-up," Griggs said. “She’s one of the fairest district attorneys in the state of Georgia."

Gov. Brian Kemp agreed.

“She really is the right person for the job,” Kemp said.

[RELATED STORY: Cobb County’s first African-American female district attorney sworn in]

The Department of Justice released a statement about the Ahmaud Arbery case:

“The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia have been supporting and will continue fully to support and participate in the state investigation. We are assessing all of the evidence to determine whether federal hate crimes charges are appropriate. In addition, we are considering the request of the Attorney General of Georgia and have asked that he forward to federal authorities any information that he has about the handling of the investigation. 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 Spokesperson Kerri Kupec.

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