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Suspect in Jogger's Death 'Knew Him' From Another Case

A prosecutor says his son worked on an 'earlier prosecution' of Ahmaud Arbery
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2020 10:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – A suspect in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black jogger might have known him already, CNN reports. A Georgia prosecutor says his son and suspect Gregory McMichael had worked on an "earlier prosecution" of the victim, Ahmaud Arbery, when both worked at the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office. The prosecutor, George Barnhill, made the claim in an April 7 letter to the Georgia attorney general's office recusing himself from the case. McMichael, 64, and his 34-year-old son, Travis McMichael, are accused of murder and aggravated assault in Arbery's death. They claim Arbery resembled a burglary suspect and they killed him when he resisted a citizen's arrest. For more:

  • Which prosecution? Barnhill's son is a prosecutor and McMichael a former investigator for the Brunswick DA's office—but in what case did they encounter Arbery? The Brunswick News has reported that police arrested him in 2012 for taking a handgun to a high-school basketball game, and his family's attorney, Lee Merrit, says Arbery was arrested in 2018 for shoplifting.

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  • 'Not strangers': Barnhill wrote that he didn't think criminal charges were warranted against the McMichaels. "This family are not strangers to the local criminal justice system," Barnhill wrote of the Arberys, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "From best we can tell, Ahmaud's older brother has gone to prison in the past and is currently in the Glynn jail, without bond, awaiting new felony prosecution. It also appears a cousin has been prosecuted by DA Johnson's office."
  • Rice and Martin: "We've been here before, whether it's Tamir Rice or Trayvon Martin," says a lawyer for Arbery's father, Marcus Arbery Sr. "When they kill our children, they then try to assassinate their character and I know they're going to do that with Ahmaud Arbery."
  • 'Her friend': Two county commissioners say District Attorney Jackie Johnson wouldn't let police arrest the McMichaels right after the Feb. 23 killing, per the Journal-Constitution. "The police at the scene went to her, saying they were ready to arrest both of them. These were the police at the scene who had done the investigation," says Glynn County Commissioner Allen Booker. "She shut them down to protect her friend McMichael."
  • Death threats: The man who shot the video of Arbery's killing says he's getting death threats. An attorney for William "Roddie" Bryan tells CNN his client is cooperating with authorities: "It was Mr. Bryan who ... disclosed the existence of the videotape, and invited a responding Glynn County Police Officer to sit with him in his truck where they watched the video together."
(Police are also investigating Bryan.)

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