Prosecutor criticized over slaying is ousted

A Georgia prosecutor who was criticized for her office’s response to the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery has been ousted by voters, who elected an independent candidate who had to collect thousands of signatures to get on the ballot.

District Attorney Jackie Johnson, a Republican, lost her reelection bid Tuesday to lawyer Keith Higgins after serving a decade as the top prosecutor in southeast Georgia’s Brunswick Judicial Circuit. Johnson said she believes Arbery’s slaying, and what she says are false allegations blaming her for a long delay before arrests were made, played a big role in her defeat.

Arbery was slain in February by a White father and son who armed themselves and pursued the 25-year-old Black man as he ran through their neighborhood outside the port city of Brunswick. More than two months passed before Gregory and Travis McMichael were arrested on murder charges. In a year of protests over killings of unarmed Black men, Arbery’s death caused a national outcry.

Gregory McMichael was a retired investigator who had worked in Johnson’s office. Because of that relationship, Johnson says, she immediately recused her office from involvement in Arbery’s killing and referred police to an outside prosecutor.

The McMichaels were charged in May soon after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case.

Higgins worked as an assistant prosecutor in the Brunswick circuit for more than 20 years. He said Johnson fired him soon after she took office in 2010.

He said he was struggling to gather enough petition signatures to challenge Johnson before outrage over Arbery’s killing erupted in May.

— Associated Press


Virus leads to mistrial in case of slain girl

The murder trial of a northern Indiana woman accused of killing her stepdaughter ended in a mistrial after at least four people involved in the proceedings tested positive for the coronavirus.

Amanda D. Carmack, of Gas City, faces charges of murder, neglect, domestic battery and strangulation in the death of her 10-year-old stepdaughter, Skylea Carmack, whose body was found hidden in a shed behind the family’s home last year.

Carmack’s trial began Oct. 19 in Grant Circuit Court, but it was interrupted after at least three people associated with the trial tested positive for the virus, WANE-TV reported. It was due to resume Oct. 28, but the judge declared a mistrial on Monday after the spouse of another person associated with the trial tested positive. According to a motion, that person was considered “a critical participant” in the trial and was advised to quarantine for 14 days after the spouse’s 10-day isolation.

A 24-day delay in the trial would be “inappropriate,” the motion stated. A date has not been set yet for a new trial.

— Associated Press