A Georgia judge has refused to dismiss charges of misconduct against a former prosecutor who is accused of hampering the investigation into the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.
In a one-page ruling, Senior Judge John R. Turner announced his decision after former District Attorney Jackie Johnson filed a motion arguing the case against her lacks evidence and should be dismissed, according to The Associated Press.
The case against Johnson stems from Feb. 23, 2020, when three white men in pickup trucks chased and killed Arbery, a Black man.
Retired investigator Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, were joined by their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, as they chased Arbery, who was 25 years old at the time. Bryan filmed the chase, and it was the McMichaels who fired the shotgun blasts that left Arbery dead in the street.
A grand jury indicted Johnson in September 2021, alleging that she used her office to try to protect the McMichaels, including telling police officers on the day of the shooting that they should not arrest Travis McMichael.
She has been charged with a felony count of violating her oath of office and with a misdemeanor of hindering a law enforcement investigation.
Johnson pleaded not guilty and said she recused herself from the case against Arbery’s killers because one — Greg McMichael — was a former employee.
She is being prosecuted by Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr’s office, but her defense filed a motion in March 2022 to dismiss the case. Her attorneys argued there was “not a scintilla of evidence” to support the charge of hindering police, according to the AP.
But prosecutors in May 2022 shared a list of 16 calls, including one that was longer than 20 minutes, between phones belonging to Johnson and Greg McMichael in the days and weeks following the shooting.
Johnson had been voted out of office before her indictment, and the McMichaels and Bryan were found guilty of murder in Glynn County Superior Court. All three were sentenced to life in prison.
In February last year, all three were also convicted of federal hate crimes by a U.S. District Court jury. In August, the McMichaels both received an additional life sentence, and Bryan got an additional 35 years in prison.