Judge rejects plea agreement in Travis McMichael's hate crime case

Travis McMichael.
(Image credit: Octavio Jones-Pool/Getty Images)

A federal judge on Monday rejected a plea deal for Travis McMichael, one of the men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, on hate crime charges.

McMichael reached an agreement to plead guilty to one hate crime charge, in exchange for prosecutors recommending he serve 30 years in federal prison. After U.S. District Judge Lisa G. Wood rejected the plea deal, attorneys for Travis McMichael and his father, Gregory McMichael, asked the court for more time to decide whether they should change their pleas to guilty, CNN reports. A hearing is scheduled for Friday.

Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and a third man, William "Roddie" Bryan, were convicted late last year on state murder charges in Arbery's 2020 death, and sentenced to life in prison. Arbery, a Black man, was shot and killed while jogging through a Georgia neighborhood; the McMichaels, who are white, claimed they thought Arbery was a burglary suspect. They chased Arbery in their pickup truck, and Travis McMichael fatally shot Arbery as they struggled over McMichael's shotgun. The McMichaels were followed by Bryan, who recorded some of the altercation on his cellphone.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

The McMichaels and Bryan are all facing federal hate crime charges, and a prosecutor told Wood that by accepting the plea deal, Travis McMichael was admitting he killed Arbery and it was due to his "race or color." This did not sit well with the Arbery family. "Please listen to me," Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, told Wood. "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."

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for TheWeek.com. Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and EW.com, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.