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Who Is Joyette Holmes, The New Prosecutor In The Ahmaud Arbery Case?
Attorney General Chris Carr on Monday named Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes as the prosecutor for the Ahmaud Arbery case.
"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 press release. “We appreciate the confidence that Attorney General Carr has in our office’s ability to bring to light the justice that this case deserves.”
Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, was shot and killed by Gregory and Travis McMichael in February while jogging through a neighborhood in Brunswick. His death sparked a national outcry and demands for justice after a cellphone video of the shooting began circulating online last week.
Holmes is the fourth prosecutor to be in charge of the case.
Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson recused herself from the case almost immediately because Gregory McMichael had previously worked in her office as an investigator. George Barnhill only recused himself after Arbery's mother raised objections.
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Barnhill wrote in his recusal letter that he believed the suspects were acting in accordance with the law.
"It appears their intent was to stop and hold this criminal suspect until law enforcement arrived," he wrote. "Under Georgia law, this is perfectly legal."
Atlantic Judicial Circuit DA Tom Durden was handling the case prior to Holmes' appointment.
Holmes began her term as Cobb DA in July 2019 after being appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp. She succeeded Vic Reynolds, who previously served in the position before being appointed as the head of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in February of last year.
Last Friday, Reynolds said there was “sufficient probable cause” to arrest two men on charges of aggravated assault and felony murder.
Holmes served as Chief Magistrate of Cobb County for four years.
WATCH BELOW: Joyette Holmes, as a chief magistrate, speaks about her path to becoming a judge.
At the time of her appointment, Kemp had praise for Holmes' background.
"She is certainly one of our best and brightest in Georgia,” he said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “As DA, I know that Judge Holmes will work around the clock to keep our families safe as well as our businesses.”
Holmes is a native of Valdosta and graduated from the University of Georgia, where she earned dual bachelor's degrees in both psychology and criminal justice. She then attended law school at the Baltimore School of Law in Maryland. She is the the first African American to serve as Cobb County District Attorney.
Holmes is also a board member of both the Cobb Community Foundation and MUST Ministries.
"She’s an extremely gifted person that has excelled at every opportunity that she’s been given, and yet she just conveys this amazing humility and grace that just embodies who she is,” MUST Ministries CEO Ike Reighard told the Marietta Daily Journal earlier this year.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Cobb County DA Joyette Holmes Named Prosecutor In Ahmaud Arbery Case
In January of 2020, the Marietta Daily Journal named her citizen of the year, calling her an "outstanding public servant."
"Public safety means everything to all of us,” she told the MDJ at the time. “It doesn’t happen without all of us. There’s a formula, and I understand there are groups that believe that the formula should be balanced one way or the other, but as long as we are working through that formula together, we are going to come up with the right answer.”
Earlier this month, Holmes recorded a video for the Cobb County "12 Hours of Prayer" event. In it, she cited her spirituality as a tenet of her life.
"I am grateful that in these times of uncertainty, I can lean on my faith and my ability to fellowship with others," she said in the video.
WATCH BELOW: Holmes gives a statement for the Cobb County "12 Hours of Prayer" event.
Attorney Ben Crump and the Arbery family have released the following statement on Holmes' appointment:
“In order for justice to be carried out both effectively and appropriately in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, it is imperative that the special prosecutor has no affiliation with the Southeast Georgia legal or law enforcement communities. 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.”
S. Lee Merritt and L. Chris Stewart, attorneys for the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, also released a statement:
"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."