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.
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."