DOJ offering two Ahmaud Arbery killers plea deals on hate charges
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Prosecutors have reached plea deals on federal hate crime charges with two of the three White men convicted of killing 25-year-old Black man Ahmaud Arbery, court documents show. Arbery’s parents are “vehemently against” the deals, their lawyer says.
Arbery was shot to death while jogging in a Brunswick, Georgia, neighborhood in February 2020.
Travis McMichael, 35, his father Gregory McMichael, 66, and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan were convicted of state murder charges in November.
The McMichaels were sentenced in January to life without parole. Bryan can seek parole after 30 years behind bars.
Along with the state charges, the three have been hit with federal civil rights counts that accuse them of using force and threats of force, because of his race, to intimidate and interfere with Arbery’s right to use a public street. All three have pleaded not guilty to the hate crime charges.
Court filings show prosecutors will present the deals stuck with the McMichaels on the federal charges to a court for approval Monday morning.
But Arbery family attorney Lee Merritt said in a statement late Sunday that Arbery’s parents, Wanda Cooper-Jones and Marcus Arbery, “vehemently” oppose the deals and said so directly to the U.S. Justice Department earlier in the day.
The deals, Merritt said, would let the McMichaels serve the first 30 years of their terms in “a preferred federal prison.”
Merritt said that would be a “huge accommodation” to “the men who hunted down and murdered” Arbery.
He added that Arbery’s family is “devastated” over the proposals and “their wishes are being completely ignored.”
Merritt quoted Cooper-Jones as saying, “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. … I have been completely betrayed by the DOJ lawyers.”
Merritt said Cooper-Jones would appeal to the court Monday to throw out the deal.
Earlier this month, the DOJ approached Cooper-Jones about a plea bargain that would have both McMichaels admitting that what they did was motivated by hate, according to Merritt.
Cooper-Jones told “CBS Mornings” she rejected the deal because she wants the men to stand trial in court for those charges.