In a legal brief filed with the U.S. District Court, Greg McMichael, 66, admits that he deserves “a substantial period of incarceration.” But he asked Judge Lisa Godbey Wood not to sentence him to life in prison, a sentence he already received in a separate trial from a Georgia state court for his involvement in the 25-year-old Black man’s fatal shooting.
McMichael also asked the judge to transfer him from the Georgia state prison system to a federal prison where he would be safe from attacks from other inmates.
According to the AP, the convicted killers may face an additional life sentence in the federal hate crimes case as they appeal their state convictions and sentences.
In asking for leniency, McMichael’s attorney, A.J. Balbo, didn’t minimize his client’s crime.
“It involved the gruesome and altogether avoidable death of a young man whose last moments are preserved forever in haunting video,” Balbo wrote. “It showcased repugnant text messages and postings that displayed a racist bent that, even after decades of societal progress, still clings to some.”
At the same time, Balbo argued that McMichael’s sentence shouldn’t exceed the 21-year prison sentence former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin received in July after pleading guilty to violating George Floyd’s civil rights. A Minneapolis jury convicted Chauvin in 2021 on all counts of murder and manslaughter for killing Floyd during an arrest.
Balbo underscored in the legal brief that McMichael had a clean record in his three decades as a law enforcement officer, never receiving official complaints about racism, harassment or excessive force. He added that his client suffers from multiple health problems, including heart disease and depression.
On February 23, 2020, McMichael, his son Travis McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan chased Arbery in pickup trucks while he jogged in their Brunswick, Georgia neighborhood. After cornering the deceased man, a video recorded by Bryan showed Arbery struggling with Travis McMichael and being shot point blank, killing him.
The McMichaels said they suspected Arbery was a burglar, but investigators determined that Arbery was unarmed and had committed no crimes when they killed him.