Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill revealed Greg McMichael’s ties to the victim in a letter recusing himself from the case — because his own son had a connection to Arbery, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
McMichael, 64, a former Glynn County cop who worked as an investigator in the Brunswick DA’s office, helped prosecute Arbery in the past, Barnhill said.
When Arbery, 25, was in high school, he was sentenced to five years probation as a first offender on charges of carrying a weapon on campus, and several counts of obstructing a law enforcement officer, the paper reported.
In 2018, he was convicted of a probation violation after he was charged with shoplifting, according to court documents obtained by the outlet.
McMichael, who retired from the DA’s office in April 2019, never referenced his work on that probe to cops, according to the report. The DA learned about the ties “three or four weeks” earlier, he said.
McMichael claimed to cops he recognized Arbery from surveillance video capturing a recent burglary in his mostly white neighborhood — and that he intended to make a citizen’s arrest, the paper reported.
Meanwhile, it was revealed that Barnhill’s son, a prosecutor for the DA’s office, was involved with “previous prosecution” of Arbery, but it’s unclear which incident, the paper reported.
Before recusing himself, Barnhill wrote that his office did “not see grounds for an arrest” of Greg and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, according to WJXT.
“It appears Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael and [neighbor] William Bryan were following in “hot pursuit of a burglary suspect with solid first-hand probably cause,” Barnhill wrote in a letter to Glynn County Police Capt. Tom Jump. “Arbery initiated the fight. … At that point, Arbery grabbed the shotgun (that Travis McMichael was holding). Under Georgia law, McMichael was allowed to use deadly force to protect himself.”
Investigators have not provided any proof that Arbery was responsible for any burglaries, according to the report.
“They have made reference to ongoing burglaries in this community, but some obscure, indistinct crime in the community does not empower the entire community to hunt down black men,” Lee Merritt, Arbery’s family attorney, told the outlet.
“These men were not performing any police function or any duty as a citizen of the state of Georgia. These men were vigilantes. They were a posse and they were performing a lynching in the middle of the day,” he continued.
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Jones-Cooper, told the Journal-Constitution she had requested Barnhill’s recusal but she didn’t know about the involvement of his own son, or Greg McMichael.
“I just looked him up on Facebook and saw this son worked for the Brunswick DA,” Jones-Cooper said.
Before Barnhill, Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson also recused herself from the case because Greg McMichael previously worked in her office, WJXT reported.
Both Travis and Greg McMichael were charged with murder and aggravated assault in Arbery’s killing.