Joyette M. Holmes of Cobb County Court is the fourth prosecutor to take the case. Two previous prosecutors have recused themselves because of their previous working relationship with one of the suspects, Gregory McMichael, a retired police detective in the southeastern Georgia community where the fatal shooting occurred .
According to local reports, Holmes was appointed last year by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R) as the first black woman to serve as the prosecutor for Cobb County, a suburb north of Atlanta.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice also announced on Monday whether or not the agency’s Civil Rights Division plans to prosecute federal hate crime charges of racism.
The assignment of a new prosecutor to the murder of Arbery marks the start of another chapter in a winding case that has attracted enormous national attention, prompting lawyers to call for the resignation of certain authorities involved in the murder. ‘initial investigation. It took more than two months and the publication of a graphic viral video in the incident before authorities arrested McMichael and her son, Travis, for murder and aggravated assault in connection with the incident.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is also investigating the involvement of a third man, William Bryan, who recorded the video, according to documents reviewed by The Post.
Holmes takes over from Atlantic District Attorney Tom Durden, who was named the third prosecutor in the case in April. Durden had asked that the case be transferred to someone else, according to a statement by Attorney General Chris Carr.
“This case has grown in size and scope since [Durden] accepted the appointment, “Carr wrote. “And as an experienced district attorney, Tom has recognized that another office is better suited from a resource perspective to handle the case now.” “
In a statement confirming Holmes’ appointment, his office wrote that “the call to serve will not be taken lightly.” The Cobb County prosecutor’s office said it had already received investigative documents from the Georgie Bureau of Investigation and would act “as soon as possible to move the case forward.”
Arbery’s mother lawyers Lee Merritt and Chris Stewart applauded the decision in a statement on Monday. The attorneys said they asked Carr to appoint a new district attorney in the murder of Arbery “because the prosecuting community in southern Georgia was marred by the delay in the action before the video was released.”
“The family is pleased that Mr. Durden is no longer responsible for the prosecution of two of Mr. Arbery’s killers,” the lawyers wrote. “This case has been mismanaged from the very beginning and we look forward to a full investigation by the Ministry of Justice on the previous prosecutors. “
The case was first referred to Jackie Johnson in the Brunswick court system, who recused himself from the case in February because Gregory McMichael was previously an investigator in his office. Then he went to George E. Barnhill, district attorney for Georgia’s Waycross Judicial Circuit, who recused himself under pressure from Arbery’s mother after she complained that Barnhill’s son was working with Gregory McMichael at the Brunswick Attorney’s office, according to documents obtained by the Publier.
Durden was next, and said last week that he planned to present the investigation to a grand jury before a video of the incident leaked and the GBI was assigned to the case. The McMichaels were arrested a few days later.
Carr had previously stated that he wanted to examine how the investigation into Arbery’s murder “had been carried out from the start.” In a Monday afternoon tweet, Kemp welcomed the decision to put Holmes on the case, writing“I am confident that it will serve with integrity and transparency to ensure justice.”
The announcement comes a day after Carr called on the Justice Department to investigate how the authorities handled Arbery’s death. In a statement released on Monday, Justice Ministry spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the agency was studying the request.
“We will continue to assess all information and take appropriate action that is justified by the facts and the law,” said the Kupec statement.
Hannah Knowles, Cleve Wootson and Colby Itkowitz contributed to this report.