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Cobb County district attorney claims no conflict of interest in Ahmaud Arbery murder investigation

“In unfortunate circumstances, we are sometimes called upon to prosecute people we know professionally,” the Cobb County district attorney said.

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — The Cobb County district attorney’s office says it has no conflict of interest in the Ahmaud Arbery investigation, despite the office’s previous interaction with one of two men accused of killing him.

In a statement, Cobb County DA Joyette M. Holmes said her office had some brief work contact with Greg McMichael, who is charged in the case along with his son Travis McMichael, but that it did not rise to the level of a conflict.

Greg McMichael is a former investigator for the Glynn County District Attorney’s Office.

“In unfortunate circumstances, we are sometimes called upon to prosecute people we know professionally,” Holmes said in a statement issued Thursday. “Professional interactions between prosecuting agencies and even law enforcement are commonplace and do not create a legal or factual conflict in proceeding with a case.”

In 2016, the high-profile trial of Justin Ross Harris was moved from Cobb County to Glynn County. Harris was accused of leaving his toddler to die in an overheated SUV in Metro Atlanta in 2014. Prosecutors pointed to his extramarital affairs were as a reason he would want the child out of the picture.

During the months-long trial, Cobb County prosecutors worked out of the Glynn County District Attorney’s Office.

In her statement, Holmes said during the trial, her team “had professional interactions with employees of the Glynn County DA’s Office, including their investigator, Gregory McMichael. Additionally, in spring 2017, a now-former investigator with our office communicated with McMichael for help locating a witness who lived in Glynn County and was needed to testify in a Cobb murder case. There has been no continuing relationship between Cobb Deputy Chief ADA Jesse Evans and McMichael.”

Cobb County is the fourth DA office to oversee the Ahmaud Arbery case.

Originally, Glynn County DA Jackie Johnson recused herself from the case because Greg McMichael had worked for her as a chief investigator.

The case was then passed to Ware County prosecutor George E Barnhill. He wrote a letter to Glynn County Police, saying he believed the shooting was justified under self-defense and citizen’s arrest laws in Georgia.

In the letter, Barnhill noted his son worked in the same office Greg McMichael had retired from.

After Barnhill recused himself from the case, the case went to Atlantic Judicial Circuit District Attorney Tom Durden, who asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to get involved. Soon after, the state attorney general removed the case from that agency saying the "case has grown in size and magnitude” and that "another office is better suited from a resource perspective to now handle the case."

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