After the judge rejected a plea deal with the Department of Justice, all three of the Georgia men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery in February 2020 will face a federal hate-crimes trial.
U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood rejected the plea deal after statements from Arbery’s family insisting that the men deserved to spend the first 30 years of their life sentence in state prison rather than federal prison.
“Given the unique circumstances of this case and my desire to hear from all concerned regarding sentencing before I pronounce a sentence, I am not comfortable accepting the terms of the plea agreement,” Wood said on Monday.
Travis McMichael withdrew a pledge to plead guilty to federal hate-crimes charges during a Friday hearing just days after a judge rejected the aforementioned plea deal.
The federal indictment accuses the three white men of attacking and killing Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man, in February, 2020, “because of Arbery’s race and color.”
Jurors may hear evidence that Travis, for example, according to prosecutors, moments after shooting and killing Arbery, stood over Arbery’s body and referred to him using a racial epithet.
One of the Arbery family’s attorneys is Clifford Jones, who said Friday that the murder convictions were only the first step. Hate crime convictions, he said, must be next.
“It’s still the same battle,” Jones said. “We’re just going further up the hill. So, we still haven’t gotten to the top, yet. At the top is 100% justice for Ahmaud.”
On Monday, prosecutors argued that the younger McMichael “associated Black people with criminality for years, and harbored resentment toward African-American people.”
“Travis McMichael did not belong to any hate group and did not set out on Feb. 23, 2020, to carry out an act of violence against an African American person,” prosecutors argued on Monday. “But he made assumptions about Mr. Arbery that he would not have made if Ahmaud Arbery had been white.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NEW YORK POST