Court documents reveal that two of the three White men convicted in the murder of Ahmaud Albery, a 25-year-old Black man, have agreed to plea agreements on federal hate crime charges. Their lawyer claims that Arbery’s parents oppose the plea deals.
Arbery was killed while running in Brunswick, Georgia in February 2020.
Travis McMichael (35), his father Gregory McMichael (66), and William “Roddie Bryan (66) were convicted of state murder charges on November.
In January, the McMichaels received a sentence of life imprisonment without parole. Bryan can apply for parole after serving 30 years in prison.
The federal civil rights charges against the three men, in addition to the state charges, include the use of force and threats to force Arbery to prevent him from using a public street. The hate crime charges have been pleaded guilty by all three.
According to court filings, prosecutors will present the McMichaels’ plea deals on federal charges to a court Monday morning.
Lee Merritt, the Arbery family lawyer, stated late Sunday that Arbery’s parents, Wanda Cooper Jones and Marcus Arbery, “vehemently”, oppose the deals in a statement. He also said this directly to the U.S. Justice Department earlier on the day.
Merritt stated that the deals would allow the McMichaels to serve the first 30 of their sentences in “a preferred federal jail.”
Merritt stated that this would be a huge accommodation for “the men who hunted and killed” Arbery.
He said that Arbery’s family was “devastated” by the proposal and “their wishes were being completely ignored.”
Merritt quoted Cooper Jones as saying that the DOJ had offered the men who killed my son a deal to make it easier for them to serve their sentences in prison. The DOJ lawyers have completely betrayed me.”
Merritt stated that Cooper-Jones would appeal Monday to the court to cancel the deal.
The DOJ approached Cooper Jones earlier this month to discuss a plea deal. This would see McMichaels and Jones admitting that they were motivated by hatred, according Merritt.
Cooper-Jones stated to CBS Mornings that she had rejected the agreement because she wanted the men to face trial for these charges.