Ahmaud Arbery's Killers Reach Plea Deal With Federal Prosecutors, Sparking Outcry From His Family
Two of the three men convicted in state court on Nov. 24 of murdering Ahmaud Arbery worked out a plea deal with federal prosecutors on hate crimes charges, prompting pushback from Arbery’s family.
Attorneys for the Department of Justice asked the U.S. District Court for the Southern District in Georgia to "dispose" of the charges against father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael, USA Today reports, citing court documents filed on Sunday (Jan. 30).
The third defendant, William "Roddie" Bryan, was not believed to have filed a notice of a plea deal.
Travis McMichael, his father Greg McMichael and Bryan, all of whom are white, chased Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, and cornered him with their pickup trucks on Feb. 23, 2020 in Brunswick, Ga. The pursuit ended with Travis McMichael fatally shooting an unarmed Arbery.
On Jan. 7, Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley sentenced both McMichaels to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Bryan also received a life sentence but was granted the possibility of parole.
The three men were charged with federal hate crimes and attempted kidnapping. At the time of Arbery's murder, Georgia did not have a hate crime law.
News of the McMichaels’ federal plea deal prompted an angry response from Arbery’s family.
According to the family’s attorney, Lee Merritt, Arbery’s parents, Wanda Cooper-Jones and Marcus Arbery, are “vehemently against this deal.”
"The DOJ has gone behind my back to offer the men who murdered my son a deal to make their time in prison easier for them to serve," Cooper-Jones said in a statement.
Merritt said the deal will allow the McMichaels to serve their sentence in federal prison, which he described as “a huge accommodation,” as conditions are usually better in federal prisons compared to state prisons.
“This back room deal represents a betrayal to the Arbery family who is devastated,” Merritt tweeted.
According to USA Today, the three men faced additional life sentences if found guilty in the federal hate crimes trial that was scheduled to begin on Feb. 7.