On Monday, Cobb County District Attorney Joyette M. Holmes, a black woman, was appointed as the fourth prosecutor in the case of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man gunned down in February by two white men while on a jog in Brunswick, Ga.
The father-and-son suspects in the case, Gregory and Travis McMichael, are accused of murder and have ties to the local law enforcement community. Their arrest came after video of Arbery’s killing was released months after the crime was committed.
Holmes takes over from the most recent prosecutor, Tom Durden, who requested that the case go to someone else, as it had grown too big for his office amid national scrutiny. The two previous prosecutors recused themselves from the case, citing professional relationships with the older McMichael, who was a former county police officer.
“Our office will immediately gather all materials related to the investigation thus far and continue to seek additional information to move this case forward,” Holmes said in a statement Monday. “We appreciate the confidence that Attorney General Carr has in our office’s ability to bring to light the justice that this case deserves.”
Many local officials expressed confidence in the decision to appoint Holmes to the case.
Georgia Attorney General Christopher M. Carr, who appointed her, said he believes her experience makes her ideal for the job. “District Attorney Holmes is a respected attorney with experience, both as a lawyer and a judge,” Carr said on Monday. “The most important thing is we make sure justice is done.”
Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who tapped Holmes, also a Republican, as district attorney for Cobb County, said, “She really is the right person for the job.”
Holmes became Cobb County’s first black and first female district attorney in July. Four years prior to this role, she broke boundaries by becoming the first African-American chief magistrate of the Cobb County Superior Court. Holmes did not return Yahoo News’ request for comment.
Arbery family attorney S. Lee Merritt also praised Holmes’s appointment as “another huge win for justice,” as he had pushed for Durden to be taken off the case because of his inaction.
Attorney Benjamin Crump, another lawyer representing the family, also praised the move. “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.
Kim Isaza, public information officer for the Cobb County DA’s office, told Yahoo News that the case would be blind when it came to the race of the victim and those suspected of killing him.
“We decide cases on facts,” Isaza said. “We do our best not to judge people based on their skin color.”
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