Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr in a press release said that Ex-Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson is indicted on allegations that she used her position to help protect the three men charged with murder in Arbery’s case.
Johnson is accused of obstructing police and violating her oath of office after Arbery’s death last February. Arbery was fatally shot on a residential street as he ran through Brunswick, a small Georgia neighborhood, on Feb. 23, 2020.
After video footage of the incident emerged on May 5. last year, a father and son, Gregory McMichael, 65, and Travis McMichael, 34, were arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault on May 7 in the fatal shooting of the 25-year-old. The individual who captured the 36-second mobile footage of the violent encounter, 50-year-old William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., was arrested on charges of felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment on May 21.
The three men were then indicted in April this year on hate crime and other charges. They were each charged with a count of interference with rights and a count of attempting kidnapping. The McMichaels were both charged with one count of using firearms during the alleged crimes.
Greg McMichael formerly worked as an investigator in Johnson’s office before retiring in 2019. According to evidence presented in pretrial hearings in the murder case, he rang Johnson’s cellphone and left her a voice message asking for “advice” soon after the shooting occurred.
“Jackie, this is Greg,” he said, according to a recording of the call included in the public case file. “Could you call me as soon as you possibly can? My son and I have been involved in a shooting and I need some advice right away.”
Greg McMichael’s cellphone records for that day show that Johnson did not return his call.
However, the indictment accuses Johnson of showing “favor and affection” toward Greg McMichael in the investigation and interfered with police officers at the scene by “directing that Travis McMichael should not be placed under arrest.”
Lee Merritt, an attorney for Arbery’s mother, said in a statement on Thursday that prosecutors “must be held accountable when they interfere with investigations in order to protect friends and law enforcement.”
A federal judge last week scheduled an early 2022 trial for the three Georgia men. Their next pretrial hearing in the federal case is scheduled for Sept. 9. All three remain jailed on state murder charges and are scheduled to stand trial on those counts this fall in Glynn County Superior Court. Jury selection in the state case is scheduled to start Oct. 18.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.