Men who killed Ahmaud Arbery withdraw guilty pleas to federal hate crime charges

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The father and son convicted in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery will be going to trial.

Travis McMichael joined his father Friday in withdrawing his guilty plea on federal hate crimes charges.

Jury selection begins Monday.

As of Friday morning, no one knew for sure if Travis McMichael would be a part of the trial or plead guilty until he announced his decision in court.

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“Walking into this, there are several questions that everyone has,” said Barbara Arnwine with the Transformative Justice Coalition.

Supporters of Arbery’s family quickly had some of their questions answered. Travis McMichael, standing next to his lawyer Amy Copeland, said four quick words to the judge: “I withdraw the plea.”

That sets up a trial to begin Monday.

“I just got one word to say. All we are looking for is 100% justice for the Arbery Family. That’s all we are looking for. To God be the Glory,” said Marcus Arbery Sr.

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Travis McMichael and his father Greg had both agreed to plea deals with federal prosecutors earlier this week, but the judge rejected them and gave them until Friday to decide whether to go ahead and plead guilty without any guarantee on sentencing or go to trial.

A state jury already found the McMichaels and neighbor Roddy Bryan guilty of killing Arbery during a 2020 chase and shooting.

The federal trial centers on hate crimes and whether Arbery died because he was Black.

Some 1,000 residents from across nearly a third of Georgia are being called in as potential jurors for the federal case.

For the Arberys, questions linger.

“Everybody is wondering more about what the judge is thinking, her concerns,” Arwine said.

The judge, not the attorneys, will be the primary questioner of the potential jurors next week.

All three men are already serving life sentences in state prison. Federal life sentences could be added if they are found guilty in this trial as well.

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