Who Is Joyette Holmes, The Black Woman Appointed As Lead Prosecutor In The Ahmaud Arbery Case?

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Georgia NAACP Holds Protest For Shooting Death Of Jogger Ahmaud Arbery

Source: Sean Rayford / Getty

Cobb County Prosecutor Joyette Holmes, was recently appointed by Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr to oversee the proceedings in the shooting death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery.

“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 released on her official Facebook page. “We appreciate the confidence that Attorney General Carr has in our office’s ability to bring to light the justice that this case deserves.”

Holmes made history on July 1, 2019, when she was sworn in as the first Black person and first Black woman to serve as the Cobb County District Attorney. Prior to being sworn in, Holmes was the Chief Magistrate of Cobb County for four years.

Holmes is now the fourth prosecutor to handle the Arbery case after Atlanta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Tom Durden. Last week Durden called for the  arrest of the two men involved in the shooting, Gregory and Travis McMichael.

Footage released in early May of the incident showed the last moments of Arbery’s short life, while also serving as a painful reminder. Many believe that without the release of the camera footage, the McMichaels would have remained free.

Arbery was shot and killed by the McMichaels on February 23 in Brunswick, Georgia, while running in a predominately white Satila Shores neighborhood. An autopsy released on Tuesday morning shows that he was shot twice in the chest and a bullet grazed his wrist during a struggle for the shotgun, NBC News reports.

Prior to Durden, the case was initially given to Glynn County prosecutor Jackie Johnson who recused herself after revealing she had ties with Gregory McMichael, a retired law enforcement officer. The case was then given to prosecutor George Barnhill who elected not to bring charges against the McMichaels. Barnhill also recused himself reportedly at the urging of Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones. Barnhill said that he made the decision in light of the fact that his son worked for Johnson’s office.

Holmes becomes a pivotal piece of the case as her next task requires gathering sufficient evidence to bring before a grand jury.

As a native of Valdosta, Georgia, Holmes shared that as a teen her favorite TV show was Law & Order in a YouTube video posted by the Judicial Council of Georgia. She attended the University of Georgia where she obtained a degree in criminal justice and psychology. After finishing at UGA, she interned with the Cobb County Juvenile Court working with the truancy courts. She also taught as a substitute teacher in Cobb County.

She later attended her law degree at the University of Baltimore School of Law in Maryland. After graduation, she worked in Maryland’s public defender office. She relocated back to Georgia, where she began a private practice while also working in the local district attorney’s office. It was during this time that she decided to run for a state court judge opening. Even though she lost, she said she was inspired to seek public office outside of her practice. After her working as a prosecutor and defense attorney, she decided to run for a Chief Magistrate Judge position.

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