BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The federal hate crimes trial will soon begin in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.
Jury selection is supposed to start next week, but two of the three men convicted in Arbery’s death could plead guilty on Friday.
It’s unclear what Greg and Travis McMichael will do — plead guilty or roll the dice at a hate crimes trial set for Monday.
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, was very adamant before the judge that she’s opposed to any plea deal, especially one that allows her son’s killers to serve time in federal prison instead of Georgia lockups.
“It’s disrespectful. I fought so hard to get these guys in state prison,” Cooper-Jones told Channel 2′s Tony Thomas.
“He was killed racially, and we want 100% justice, not half justice,” Marcus Arbery Sr. said.
The McMichaels, along with Roddy Bryan, are serving life sentences for killing Arbery during a 2020 chase and shooting.
- ‘It’s disrespectful’: Ahmaud Arbery’s family begs judge to reject McMichael plea deal, judge agrees
- Men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery sentenced to life in prison; 2 without parole
- Defense says ruling by judge in Ahmaud Arbery trial over citizens arrest law guts their case
- Defense rests in Ahmaud Arbery case as hundreds of pastors gathered to support family
- Man who shot, killed Ahmaud Arbery takes stand as defense makes case in court
- State rests in Ahmaud Arbery killing trial, defense to make their case starting Wednesday
- Judge denies mistrial in Arbery case after attorney has issue with Jesse Jackson in courtroom
- Defense attorney backtracks on Black pastor comment in Arbery trial
- Jury hears testimony from owner of home where Ahmaud Arbery was last seen alive
The McMichaels wanted to plead guilty to the federal hate crimes charges in exchange for serving the first 20-plus years in federal prisons.
Bryan has no deal and will go to trial Monday.
“This is almost a freebie for them to have the trial, because maybe there is going to be an issue that will cause this case to be reversed,” legal analyst Esther Panitch said.
Panitch said the judge in this case is in a hard spot trying to balance the deals reached between prosecutors and defendants while respecting the family.
“Usually they listen very intently, but not until sentencing. It’s unusual at this part of the proceeding. Especially in federal court where the judges are appointed for life,” Panitch said.
“I’d like to think the judge considered how much sweat equity the family put in on this and they deserved to be heard on this point,” said Arbery family attorney Lee Merritt.
If the McMichaels still enter guilty pleas Friday morning, the punishment they receive will be entirely up to the judge.
It could range from a few years to another set of life sentences.
©2022 Cox Media Group