Gregory and Travis McMichael along with their neighbor William Roddie Bryan will go to trial next Monday for federal hate crime charges in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Feb. 2020. Both McMichaels reversed their guilty pleas this week after failed plea deal agreements with the prosecution.
Travis McMichael pled not guilty Friday after U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood rejected his plea deal on Monday. The senior McMichael also chose to plead not guilty, according to court documents filed late Thursday. Bryan was not offered the deal.
All three men face charges including once count of attempted kidnapping and one count of interference. According to CNN, Travis McMichael and Gregory McMichael were charged with one count each of using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
Here’s more from the Washington Post:
As the federal trial neared, prosecutors reached a deal with the McMichaels: The pair would plead guilty and serve a 30-year sentence in federal prison before returning to state custody. But days after the plea deal was signed, Arbery’s family announced that they were vehemently opposed. Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said she did not need the McMichaels to validate what she and activists have been saying for nearly two years — that racism fueled her son’s murder.
“All they would have to do is stand up and say that they were motivated by hate, and then this court will concede to their preferred conditions of confinement,” Cooper-Jones said in court Monday. “I do not need to hear them say they were motivated by hate. That does me no good. It does my family no good.”Seeking to save the deal, prosecutor Tara Lyons told the court Monday that the McMichaels’ agreement was significant. They were “admitting publicly in front of the nation that this offense was racially motivated,” she said.She said prosecutors had turned down another deal early in January after meeting with the family and considering their wishes.“I personally understand every expression of anger and distrust that the Arbery family feels with law enforcement and the justice system,” Lyons said. “I have no doubt if my son were chased down and shot like an animal, because of the color of his skin, I would feel the same.
The McMichaels and Bryan were found guilty of killing Arbery on state charge last November, after chasing Arbery down while on he was on a jog through their suburban Georgia neighborhood in 2020. They were sentenced to life last month.