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Former DA in Arbery case indicted
Jackie Johnson
Jackie Johnson

There are several new updates that are tied with the death of Ahmaud Arbery making headlines. On Sept. 2, State Attorney General Chris Carr announced the indictment of former District Attorney Jackie Johnson on charges of Violation of Oath of Public Officer and Obstruction of a Police Officer. As alleged in the indictment, these charges are related to the investigation surrounding the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery.

And on Aug. 30, Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley denied a petition filed by the three defendants charged in the killing of Arbery, meaning his past may not be presented as evidence during trial set to begin next month in Brunswick.

Civil Rights Attorneys Ben Crump and Lee Merritt, who are representing the parents of Arbery held a press conference on Sept. 3, to address the indictment against Johnson.

“The path to justice for Ahmaud Arbery and his family has been a long and arduous one,” Crump said. “But today’s indictment is yet another step in the right direction. Former DA Johnson may not have pulled the trigger on the day Ahmaud was murdered, but she played a starring role in the cover-up. Ahmaud was stalked, gunned down, and his killers were allowed to freely walk the streets for months. And why? Because DA Johnson wanted to protect one of Ahmaud’s killers: former police officer Greg McMichael.”

Crump went on to say, “Ahmaud was denied all consideration the day he was murdered and, in the months, following his death - it’s past time that those responsible be held accountable for it.”

Carr said the investigation will continue. The indictment charges that Johnson violated her oath of public officer, a felony that carries 1-5 years and that she obstructed and hindered a law enforcement officer, a misdemeanor that carries up to 12 months.

During the press conference Merritt said he was pleased that the investigation was ongoing and called for the indictment of Waycross District Attorney George Barnhill. 

Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones said she was pleased with the indictment. Arbery’s dad, Marcus Arbery said he was not surprised saying he knew Johnson was a corrupt public official.

“And has been for the last 30 years,” he said. Marcus Arbery said he hopes everyone who tried to cover up or cover for the defendants responsible for the death of his son gets indicted and put away.

“While nothing will bring back Ahmaud, we can make sure his death was not in vain,” Crump said. “Today’s indictment sends a clear message to those in law enforcement and in the justice system whose actions and ethics fail to meet the standards of their office: corruption, evil, racism, and hate have no place here. We demand that former DA Johnson be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law without leniency.” 

On Aug. 30, Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley denied a petition filed by the three defendants charged with Arbery’s death, meaning his past may not be presented as evidence during trial set to begin next month in Brunswick.

Travis McMichael, 35; Travis’s father, Gregory McMichael, 65; and William “Roddie” Bryan, 51 were each charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit a felony when they killed Arbery on Feb. 23, 2020.

Attorneys for the defendants wanted to produce evidence of Arbery’s past run-ins with the law. However, the judge ruled that, “The character of the victim is neither relevant nor admissible in a murder trial.”

The judge further stated it would cause unfair prejudice, confuse the issues, mislead the jury and be a waste of time and needless presentation. 

In a separate order the same day the judge did allow the state to take a video deposition from witness, Larry English prior to the trial due to health concerns.

English is the owner of a home at 220 Satilla Drive, a home that was under construction and the home where video had captured Arbery entering into the building the day he was killed. Arbery did not steal anything from the home, according to English. The private deposition will take place in two weeks before the judge. The defendants’ attorneys will be allowed to cross-examine the witness. 

The three defendants also face federal hate crime charges of one count of interference with rights and with one count of attempted kidnapping. Travis and Gregory McMichael were also charged with one count each of using, carrying, and brandishing—and in Travis’s case, discharging—a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

Just recently U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood scheduled trial for those federal offense with jury selection beginning Feb. 7, 2022. 

Johnson Indictment
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