In the weeks following the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, Greg McMichael, one of the men later convicted in Arbery’s death, participated in 16 phone calls with the former Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson, according to court documents filed in the Superior Court of Glynn County on Wednesday.
The three were convicted last November of Arbery’s murder. In February, a jury found that the three White men had chased Arbery as he was jogging because he was Black. It found them guilty of interference of rights, a federal hate crime; and attempted kidnapping.
The document filed Wednesday was the prosecution’s response to two motions to dismiss criminal charges against Johnson for her role in allegedly mishandling the McMichael case. In the filing, government lawyers argue that
Johnson’s legal challenge is untimely, that the evidence supporting Johnson’s indictment was sufficient, and that there was no flaw in the oath administered to grand jury witnesses.
In the wake of McMichael’s conviction in Arbery’s death, the state has also filed a misconduct case against Johnson claiming that she obstructed law enforcement “by directing that Travis McMichael should not be placed under arrest, contrary to the laws of said State.”
The McMichaels were arrested May 7, 2020 — two days after video of the shooting surfaced — and Bryan was taken into custody two weeks later.
A call log included in the state’s response to the motion to dismiss shows 16 calls took place between McMichael and Johnson from February 23, the day of the shooting, to May 5, 2020, with the longest call taking place on April 30 and lasting 21 minutes and 4 seconds.
The court documents also show that McMichael left Johnson a message on the same day as Arbery’s death in which he asks Johnson to call him back saying in part “my son and I have been involved in a shooting and I need some advice right away.”
The document states that some calls took place while Johnson was still the district attorney over the case.
McMichael and Johnson were acquainted because he had worked as a police officer and an investigator in the district attorney’s office.
“The evidence shows that Johnson showed favor and affection for McMichael throughout the pendency of the case — including when she was making decisions as the DA over his case,” the government’s brief said.
The government’s brief also points to conversations Johnson had with other officials, suggesting that Johnson tried to influence the handling of McMichael’s case rather than promptly recusing herself from involvement because of their past acquaintance.