A federal judge has dismissed a plea agreement that would have prevented a federal hate crime trial for Travis McMichael, the man who was caught on camera and eventually convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, according to the Associated Press.
Greg McMichael, Travis’ father, and William R. Bryan were sentenced to life in prison earlier this month for killing the 25-year old Black jogger in 2020 along with Travis.
Arbery’s parents were publicly against the proposed deal calling it “disrespectful.” They asked the judge to reject the agreement for Greg McMichael, Travis’ father, as well.
From the Associated Press:
In rejecting the deal, U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood said it would have locked her into specific terms — including 30 years in federal prison — at sentencing. Wood said that in this case it would only be appropriate to consider the family’s wishes at sentencing, which the proposed deal wouldn’t allow.
The judge gave the McMichaels until Friday to decide whether they move ahead with pleading guilty.
Marcus Arbery told reporters outside the federal courthouse in Brunswick that he was “mad as hell” over the proposal, which lawyer Lee Merritt said could enable Travis and Greg McMichael to spend the first 30 years of their life sentences in federal prison, rather than state prison where conditions are tougher.
Marcus Arbery, Ahmaud Arbery’s father, said according to the Associated Press, “Ahmaud is a kid you cannot replace. He was killed racially and we want 100% justice, not no half justice.”
Wanda Cooper-Jones, Ahmaud’s mother, thinks it was disrespectful for the U.S. Justice Department to propose a plea deal in the first place.
“I fought so hard to get these guys in the state prison,” she said, according to the Associated Press. “I told them very, very adamantly that I wanted them to go to state prison and do their time. ... Then I got up this morning and found out they had accepted this ridiculous plea.”
More from the Associated Press:
Wood continued preparations to summon summoning the first 50 potential jurors to the courthouse on Feb. 7 for questioning.
The proposed plea agreements for the McMichaels were filed with the court late Sunday. There was no mention of a deal with their co-defendant, William “Roddie” Bryan. All three men were sentenced to life in prison on Jan. 7 after a trial last fall.
When footage leaked of the murder of Arbery, two months after he was murdered, Georgia did not have any hate crime laws. In June 2020, Georgia (finally) passed a hate crime bill.
According to the Associated Press, the hate crime charges accuse the McMichael’s and William R. Bryan of violating Arbery’s civil rights by chasing him through a Georgia neighborhood while he was jogging. Travis and Greg had firearms while Bryan recorded a video of Arbery being assaulted and eventually murdered by Travis, Greg’s son.