BRUNSWICK, Ga. — A Federal judge rejected a plea agreement for two of three men charged with hate crimes in the 2020 death of Ahmaud Arbery.
Travis McMichael and his father, Greg, were convicted in November, alongside William “Roddie” Bryan, in Arbery’s murder.
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The trio, however, still have not gone to trial for federal hate crime charges lobbied against them.
Other than closing arguments there was no mention of Arbery dying because of his race in the state trial. That was set to be the focus of the federal trial slated to begin February 7.
Arbery’s family sat in the front row of the courtroom for today’s proceedings.
The family is opposed to any deal that would allow the men to serve time in federal prison instead of Georgia’s prison system.
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U.S. District Judge Lisa Wood on Monday rejected a deal reached between Travis McMichael, 36, and federal prosecutors in relation to Arbery’s death after hearing from family members who urged her not to accept the deal.
“It is my decision to reject the plea agreement,” Wood said. “In this case it is appropriate to hear at sentencing from all concerned, including the victim’s family, before deciding on what punishment best promotes all of the factors set forth in our federal sentencing statute.”
She said that she was “not comfortable accepting the terms of the plea agreement” after hearing objections from several of Arbery’s family members.
The court went into recess after Wood’s announcement to give McMichael the chance to discuss with his attorney whether to withdraw his guilty plea and go to trial. He will otherwise face a sentencing hearing.
The court filings do not indicate a plea agreement for Bryan, who is still set to stand trial.
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In the state trial, the defendants claimed that they were attempting to hold the jogging 25-year-old for police on suspicion of robbery. The jury did not buy their self-defense claims and convicted each of them of murder.
All three men were sentenced to life in prison for Arbery’s murder.
Channel 2′s Tony Thomas is in Brunswick for all the proceedings in this trial. Get the latest updates throughout the day on Channel 2 Action News.
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