A federal judge has rejected the plea deal on hate crime charges reached by federal prosecutors and Travis McMichael, one of the men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery.
According to The Washington Post, on Monday (Jan. 31), U.S. District Judge Lisa G. Wood said she wanted to hear from “all concerned” before signing off on the deal. Attorneys for both Travis and his father Gregory McMichael said they need additional time before choosing whether to change their pleas.
As REVOLT previously reported, the McMichaels reached a plea agreement with prosecutors that would have helped them avoid their upcoming federal hate crime trial for Arbery’s death. In the plea deal, which was filed on Sunday (Jan. 30), U.S. Justice Department prosecutors asked the U.S. District Court to “dispose” of those charges. Willam “Roddie” Bryan, who was also convicted of murdering Arbery, was not named in the suggested agreement. The men were anticipated to confess to using force or threat of force to “intimidate and interfere” with the 25-year-old because he was Black.
However, Attorney Lee Merritt, who represents Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones, denounced the agreements, calling them a “back room deal” and a “betrayal to the Arbery family who is devastated.” Merritt called the proposed deal, which would allow the McMichaels to serve the first 30 years of their life prison sentences in federal custody rather than a harsher Georgia prison, a “huge accommodation to the men who hunted down and murdered Ahmaud Arbery.”
“Wanda Cooper-Jones kept her promise to Ahmaud Arbery to get her son justice. Today the DOJ is attempting to ‘snatch defeat from the jaws of victory,’” Merritt said in a tweet. “We will not allow it.”
The next hearing has been scheduled for Friday (Feb. 4). If their not guilty pleas are not changed, the federal hate crime trial will begin with jury selection on Feb. 7.