The Feb. 23 shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery in Satilla Shores has been turned over to the office of Atlantic Judicial Circuit District Attorney Tom Durden, according to the state’s Attorney General’s Office.
Georgia Attorney General Christopher M. Carr turned the case over Monday to the Atlantic Judicial Circuit, based in Hinesville in Liberty County.
Durden’s office received the case after Ware County District Attorney George E. Barnhill recused himself April 6, citing a request from Arbery’s family that he be removed.
Barnhill’s office received the case shortly after the shooting occurred, when Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson cited a conflict of interest. Arbery was shot after a confrontation that involved former Brunswick Judicial Circuit DA investigator Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael.
McMichael, a former Glynn County police officer, retired from the local DA’s office last May after more than 20 years on the job.
Katie Byrd, director of communications for the attorney general, confirmed via email Tuesday to The News that Durden has accepted the case.
Barnhill’s son, George F. Barnhill, is an assistant district attorney in the Brunswick Judicial Circuit. Barnhill cited his son’s position with the local DA’s office as the primary reason Arbery’s family requested he be removed from the case.
Arbery, 25, died of a fatal gunshot wound at around 1:08 p.m. that Sunday afternoon after a confrontation with the two McMichael men, according to a Glynn County police report. Gregory McMichael told police they suspected Arbery of burglary, the report said. According to the report, McMichael told police he saw Arbery running down Satilla Drive, after which they grabbed guns from Travis McMichael’s 230 Satilla Drive home, hopped in a pickup truck a pursued him, the report said.
After pulling up alongside Arbery at Holmes Road and Satilla Drive, McMichael told police his son got out of the pickup truck with a shotgun, the report said.
According the report, Travis McMichael and Arbery struggled for the shotgun, during which two shots were fired.
Arbery dropped to the ground and died at the scene, the report said.
Barnhill told The News on Monday that he had received autopsy and toxicology reports requested from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Also Tuesday, Johnson and acting Glynn County Police Chief Jay Wiggins released a joint statement in response to numerous public records requests received by both the police department and the DA’s office concerning the incident. Wiggins said the Glynn-Brunswick 911 Center also has received numerous public records requests.
County police released the initial incident report March 31. Nothing further on the shooting has been released, citing the open investigation. The joint statement said information is being withheld to protect the integrity of the investigation and that all information will be released “once the judicial process is complete.”
“Under Georgia law, only limited information can be released at this time because this is an open investigation and a pending case with the District Attorney for the Atlantic Judicial Circuit,” the statement said. “This protects the integrity of the investigation and the judicial process. All the evidence will be made available to the family once the judicial process is complete, and the investigation will ultimately become public.”
Wiggins and Johnson said they met Tuesday “with community leaders to discuss their concerns about the case,” the statement said. Both the police department and the local DA’s office have met with “family members of Ahmaud Arbery to answer questions concerning the legal process,” the statement said.