September 24, 2023

Judge sides with Ahmaud Arbery’s family, denies plea deal for McMichael

By: Stacy Brown / NNPA

US District Judge Lisa G. Wood rejected the plea deal reached by prosecutors and Travis McMichael on federal hate crime charges in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.

The deal would have allowed McMichael to serve his sentence in federal prison

“We respect the court’s decision to not accept the sentencing terms of the proposed plea and to continue the hearing until Friday, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Civil Rights Division said in a statement.

“The Justice Department takes seriously its obligation to confer with the Arbery family and their lawyers both pursuant to the Crime Victim Rights Act and out of respect for the victim,” Clark said.

Before signing the proposed agreement reflecting the defendants’ confessions to federal hate crimes charges, the Civil Rights Division consulted with the victims’ attorneys, Clark continued.

“The Justice Department entered the plea agreement only after the victims’ attorneys informed me that the family was not opposed to it,” she said.

Earlier, McMichael had agreed to plead guilty to a single hate crime charge in exchange for the prosecution recommending he serve 30 years in federal prison.

Gregory and Travis McMichael, along with William “Roddie” Bryan were convicted in state court of murder in early January.

The McMichaels were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility for parole. Bryan was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, expressed anger and publicly lashed out over the proposed plea deal.

“Please listen to me,” Cooper-Jones told the judge. “Granting these men their preferred conditions of confinement would defeat me. It gives them one last chance to spit in my face after murdering my son.”

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