BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Ahmaud Arbery’s family is relieved that federal judge listened to their pleas to reject the plea agreement for Gregory and Travis McMichael.
Court filings, submitted on Sunday, showed that the father and son had reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors for the federal hate crime charges they face. The agreements still required approval from a judge.
Arbery’s family was in court Monday afternoon when the judge was set to rule on the agreements.
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The family begged the judge to reject the pair of plea deals, and the judge agreed with them.
The judge told the court that she did not like the terms of the agreement. One of those agreements would have allowed the McMichaels to spend the first 30 years of the sentences in federal prison.
Greg and Travis McMichael now have until Friday to decide whether or not to continue with their pleas with no guarantee of what the sentence may be, or go to trial next week.
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Channel 2′s Tony Thomas was outside of the courthouse as Arbery’s family came out Monday afternoon.
Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, described the plea deals as “disrespectful.”
Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery, did not mince any words either.
“If an African American man would try to kill a white man, they would kill him on the spot. So we want 100% justice,” he told Thomas.
Attorney Lee Merritt explained why a plea deal in the federal trial would be attractive to the McMichaels even though have already received life sentences at the state level.
“Federal prison is going to be a lighter sentence for these men. It’s less crowded, better funded. It’s evidence by these men keep trying to get into federal custody that their sentences would be more difficult at the state level,” he explained.
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The McMichaels and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan were convicted of Arbery’s 2020 murder in November on the state level. Each was sentenced to life in prison.
The trio still faces hate crime charges on the federal level in a trial that is set to begin Feb. 7.
“I’m looking forward to the federal trial. I’m looking forward to the trial. Today was very very stressful knowing that we had rejected a plea yesterday and they were going forward with it,” Cooper-Jones said.
Federal prosecutors say that over the weekend, the Arbery family agreed to the deals for the McMichaels. The family says that did not happen.
There is no deal in place for Bryan. He is still set to stand trial next week.
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