BRUNSWICK (Ga.) — Federal prosecutors proposed a plea deal that would avoid a hate crime trial for Ahmaud Abery’s son and father. The deal was denounced by his parents on Monday. The judge then proceeded to summon potential jurors next Wednesday.
Wanda Cooper-Jones will ask the judge to reject the deal when pretrial hearings resume Monday afternoon, according to Lee Merritt, Arbery’s lawyer.
Marcus Arbery, the father of the slain man, said to reporters that he was “mad as hell” over the deal. Merritt stated that it could allow Travis and Greg McMichael, who are currently serving life sentences, to spend their first 30 years in federal prison rather than state prison, where the conditions are more severe.
Arbery stated, “Ahmaud was a child you cannot replace.” “He was murdered racially, and we want 100% justice, no half justice.”
Cooper-Jones called the U.S. Justice Department’s proposal of a plea deal despite her objections “disrespectful.”
She said, “I worked so hard to get them in the state prison.” “I made it clear to them that I wanted them in state prison so they could do their time.” … I woke up to find out that they had accepted my ridiculous plea.
U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood continues preparations to summon the 50 potential jurors to courthouse on Monday February 7, for questioning.
Late Sunday, the court received the proposed plea agreements. The court did not mention a plea agreement with William Bryan, their co-defendant. Monday morning, no details were given to the court. The deals were not mentioned by federal prosecutors in Monday morning’s court session.
Federal deals wouldn’t affect the state murder convictions for Arbery’s death. After a trial in the fall, all three men were sentenced on January 7 to life imprisonment.
McMichaels, Bryan are accused of pursuing Arbery through their coastal Georgia neighborhood on February 23, 2020. This is a hate crime charge. McMichaels and Bryan armed themselves to pursue Arbery in a pickup truck, while Bryan followed the chase in a second and captured video of Travis McMichael firing a shotgun at Arbery.
Two months later, the graphic video was leaked online and sparked a national outcry. At the time, Georgia was one of four states in America that did not have a hate crime law. Although the law was quickly passed by legislators, it was too late to bring state hate crime charges against Arbery for his murder.
The defense claimed that Arbery was being chased by white men because they had reasonable suspicions that he was committing crimes in their area. Travis McMichael, who testified that he opened fire after Arbery had attacked him with his fists and attempted to grab his shotgun.
A federal judge directed that a jury be selected from the Southern District of Georgia (which covers 43 counties) to increase chances of seating an impartial jury.3