Prosecutors who achieved guilty verdicts in the murder trial of Ahmaud Arbery spoke in a recent interview about the need to trust the criminal justice system. Speaking with Atlanta’s 11 Alive, the team reflected on the challenges of the case and the antics of the defense attorneys.
At one point, the prosecutors expressed the hope that the case would restore people’s faith in the process. While the trial may have turned out favorably, the entire process doesn’t reflect well on the criminal justice system.
For starters, the case would not have even been handled by the Cobb County prosecutorial team if people just sat back and let the process run its course. Three prosecutors handled the case before it was assigned to the Cobb County team.
News reports have focused on former Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson, who was voted out of office last November. Johnson currently faces obstruction charges for her role in keeping the McMichaels from being arrested.
It’s important to highlight how the system continues to deny full justice in this case, as Barnhill is still overseeing cases and making judgments on what to pursue. Arbery’s family and grassroots organizers made sure the case wasn’t swept under the rug.
In an infamous letter, Barnhill feigned ignorance about why Arbery’s mother would want him to recuse himself from the case. He then distorted information on why Gregory and Trevor McMichael, along with William “Roddy” Bryan.
Notably, Barnhill ran with the claim that Arbery had been caught committing a crime and that it was legal for the McMichaels and to be in “hot pursuit” of him. Citing the prior version of Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law and his decades of experience, Barnhill claimed there was no basis for arrest in the case.
If left to its own devices, the system would not have challenged Barnhill’s farce and simply accepted his rationalization. Arbery’s mother and community demanded action for months until finally seeing movement. It remains to be seen if Barnhill will face any consequences from the so-called system for his role in obstructing justice in this case.
Real justice should not tolerate prosecutors saying or doing anything in the official course of their work. Who knows how many other cases has Barnhill handled in this manner.
The Cobb County prosecutorial team also rationalized the defense’s racist antics as just doing their job. While everyone is entitled to a defense, it does not mean attorneys can make any claim or allegation in front of the judge and jury. Being an adversarial process doesn’t mean people say and do just anything.
If only the process worked fairly for everyone. Unfortunately, the outcome of the murder trial was more of an outlier than the norm. Friends, loved ones and community organizers continue to raise the cause of Marc Wilson, a Black young man who has been detained over 500 days for allegedly firing his gun in self-defense after a group of white teenagers tried to run him off the road.
Attorneys for Wilson have requested the presiding judge recuse himself. As reported by WJCL in Savannah, Wilson’s attorneys took issue with an instance of the judge and prosecutor seemingly withholding evidence. At the time, defense attorney Francys Johnson was held in contempt after trying to preserve the chain of custody for a notebook mistakenly given to him.
Addressing prosecutorial misconduct remains one of the calls to action for Just Georgia, which has been heavily involved in organizing around both Wilson and Arbery’s cases.
“We understand that justice in our communities can never be limited to the paradigm presented by the criminal legal system,” read the organization’s website.
A Disturbing Timeline Of Ahmaud Arbery's Killing And Murder Investigation In Georgia
1. October 20191 of 47
2. November 2019
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This video is from 11/17. Larry English called 911 on 11/18 and said he had a problem with "other people" the night before. This appears to show that day and is from English's attorney. There is no record of neighbors calling 911 this day, based off records from Glynn Co 911 pic.twitter.com/BXlyYEaBcL— Wright Gazaway (@WrightKATU) May 15, 2020
3. Dec. 20, 2019
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Police told the homeowner where #AhmaudArbery was last seen to contact Greg McMichael if his cameras caught someone on his property. McMichael in turn gathered a posse & began hunting for Ahmaud, or someone who fit his description, catching up with him on 2/23/20– killing him. pic.twitter.com/BmlmW636f5— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) May 16, 2020
4. Dec. 20, 2019
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This is the man that set the plan in motion that led to the murder of #AhmaudArbery.— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) May 18, 2020
ROBERT RASH is a Glynn County Police Officer.
He instructed a homeowner to contact Gregory McMichael to deal w/ trespassers.
McMichael and his son formed a posse and murdered Ahmaud Arbery. pic.twitter.com/ZqZg567Agp
5. Feb. 11, 2020
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Larry English’s attorney gave me this video from Feb 11. It shows the incident outlined in my story when Travis McMichael called 911 and saw someone in the home. On 2/23, he and his father thought the Abrery was who they saw on the 11th pic.twitter.com/C2gVJCJ3xQ— Wright Gazaway (@WrightKATU) May 14, 2020
6. Feb. 23Source:Getty 6 of 47
7. Feb. 27, 2020
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This is the DA who blocked the arrest of 2 white supremacist TERRORISTS after they murdered an innocent black man execution style while he was jogging in his neighborhood— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) May 9, 2020
JACKIE JOHNSON NEEDS TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR OBSTRUCTING & ENDANGERING THE LIVES OF BLACK MEN
ARREST HER pic.twitter.com/ngSIEGMCq1
8. Feb. 27, 20208 of 47
9. Feb. 29, 2020Source:Getty 9 of 47
10. March 2020
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If you’re wondering why no charges were initially filed on the murderers of #AhmaudArbery, it’s because D.A. George Barnhill immediately concluded Arbery was a criminal & that he attacked the men who were hunting him.— Benjamin Dixon (@BenjaminPDixon) May 7, 2020
This is letter Barnhill sent to the Brunswick authorities pic.twitter.com/vsGCboful7
11. April 2, 2020
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Police report sheds more light on Satilla Shores shooting https://t.co/Zi6YVGTkhK— The Brunswick News (@Brunswick_News) April 2, 2020
12. April 3, 202012 of 47
13. April 1313 of 47
14. April 26, 2020
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We’ll never know how often Black life is taken, justice denied:— Dr. Malinda S. Smith (@MalindaSmith) May 9, 2020
“Two Weapons, a Chase, a Killing and No Charges.
A 25-year-old man running through a Georgia neighborhood ended up dead. A prosecutor argued that the pursuers should not be arrested” @nytimes https://t.co/pJA6kSK6cj
15. April 28, 202015 of 47
16. May 5, 202016 of 47
17. May 5, 202017 of 47
18. May 7, 202018 of 47
19. May 8, 202019 of 47
20. May 8, 2020
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On what would have been his 26th birthday, people were jogging 2.23 miles in his honor to signify the date he was killed by Gregory and Travis McMichael, who racially profiled and shot the jogger in Brunswick, Georgia. #IrunwithMaud #IRunwithAhmaudhttps://t.co/V2KuBaeKjx— NewsOne (@newsone) May 9, 2020
21. May 9, 2020Source:Getty 21 of 47
22. May 10, 202022 of 47
23. May 11, 2020
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Another huge WIN for #JusticeForAhmaud! At the family’s demand— a special prosecutor will replace Tom Durden the S. GA prosecutor that sat on the case until video of Ahmaud’s murder was leaked. Joyette Holmes is out of @cobbcountygovt. Her office is being reviewed for conflicts. pic.twitter.com/rcuQ7UPOfE— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) May 11, 2020
24. May 12, 2020Source:Twitter 24 of 47
25. May 13, 2020
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“Ahmaud, I am so sorry. I should have stopped them,” reads the note. “I am so sorry.” The card was not signed by a name and no more information or context was provided, including when the card was left there. https://t.co/nzzY5aNple— NewsOne (@newsone) May 14, 2020
26. May 14, 2020Source:Getty 26 of 47
27. May 18, 2020
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Because this story wasn't bad enough now we discover Lindsay McMichael, the daughter and sister of Ahmaud Arbery’s alleged killers, posted a picture of Ahmaud’s deceased body to snapchat pic.twitter.com/RwTwzrAXAG— Reese Waters (@reesewaters) May 19, 2020
28. May 18, 202028 of 47
29. May 20, 2020Source:Getty 29 of 47
30. May 20, 2020
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Today, the GA Congressional Delegation co-signed a letter to U.S. AG William Barr and Asst AG Eric Dreiband, encouraging the use of “all possible Federal resources to achieve full justice, transparency, and accountability in the case of Mr. Ahmaud Arbery.” https://t.co/8FcMZEEKWF— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) May 20, 2020
31. May 21, 2020Source:WJAX 31 of 47
32. May 25, 2020
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NEW: Attorneys for Ahmaud Arbery's parents announce that the Department of Justice will be investigating Arbery's killing and why it took so long to arrest the people responsible. See their statement here: pic.twitter.com/yfcnrT5SjV— Hayley Mason (@HayleyMasonTV) May 26, 2020
33. June 2020
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Reports of a photo op with the president or standing with the White House during the EO signing are false.— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) June 16, 2020
Show me the civil rights leaders who are upset about families making a direct appeal for federal intervention after the murder of their loved one & I’ll show you a clown. pic.twitter.com/GXR5arB8Mz
34. June 17, 2020Source:WJAX 34 of 47
35. November 2020Source:Getty 35 of 47
36. December 2020
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William ‘Roddie’ Bryan tried to publicly absolve himself of having any part in Ahmaud Arbery’s modern-day lynching, but this newly released bodycam footage confirms what we long suspected: He clearly used his truck to block Ahmaud's escape from the McMichaels! pic.twitter.com/UAms4LYS28— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) December 15, 2020
37. January 2021Source:Getty 37 of 47
38. February 2021Source:Getty 38 of 47
39. Feb. 23, 2021Source:Getty 39 of 47
40. April 2021Source:Getty 40 of 47
41. May 2021Source:Getty 41 of 47
42. September 2021
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This is the mugshot of disgraced District Attorney Jackie Johnson who was just arrested today for her role in the coverup of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. pic.twitter.com/OKF2xKkV3Z— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) September 8, 2021
43. October 2021Source:Getty 43 of 47
44. November 11, 2021Source:Getty 44 of 47
45. November 11, 2021
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Gough is big mad because Al Sharpton sat in the courtroom yesterday.— Serene🦉 (@MythSerene) November 11, 2021
He literally says, "We don't want any more Black pastors coming in here-"
Then something abt Jesse Jackson?
"If a bunch of folks came in here dressed like Col Sanders w/ white masks..."
WTF Gough? #AhmaudArbery pic.twitter.com/GZUb4dNwRJ
46. November 24, 202146 of 47
Ahmaud Arbery Murder Trial Prosecutors Say ‘Trust The System,’ But It’s Part Of The Problem was originally published on newsone.com