On Monday, a federal judge denied a plea agreement made by prosecutors in a hate crime case involving two of the three males sentenced in Georgia state court for killing Ahmaud Arbery.
The agreement’s contents were not publicly disclosed; however, it sparked condemnation from Arbery’s parents.
Plea and Statement from Parents
NBC News reported US District Court Judge Lisa Wood stated, “I decide to reject the plea agreement. In this case, it is fair to hear from all parties involved, including the victim’s family, during the sentence.”
BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — Federal judge rejects plea deal that would have averted a hate crimes trial for the man who killed Ahmaud Arbery.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 31, 2022
According to the report, Wood stated she did not want to be bound by particular conditions and needed to consider the family’s desires during the sentencing process.
Additionally, the judge stated she was concerned about whether the plea agreement’s 30-year federal prison term was reasonable and desired to assess it herself. As per Politico, jury deliberations will begin on Feb. 7.
Arbery’s parents objected to the plea arrangement and urged the judge to reject it. Wanda Cooper-Jones’ attorneys, Ben Crump and Lee Merritt, issued a comment Monday morning on her behalf.
Cooper-Jones and Marcus Arbery, Ahmaud Arbery’s mother and father, expressed their “devastation” and “vehement opposition” to the deal.
It stated Cooper-Jones would testify against the arrangement during a court proceeding scheduled for Monday.
Cooper-Jones noted in a statement, “The Department of Justice has gone behind my back and offered the guys who killed my son a deal that will make their time behind bars easier to serve.”
“I have made it quite plain at every opportunity I will not agree to provide these individuals with any type of plea agreement. I have been deceived utterly by DOJ lawyers.”
Right now in court: Ahmaud Arbery’s Mom is asking a federal judge in Georgia to reject a guilty plea with the father & son who murdered her son to prevent their transfer from prison in Georgia to federal custody.
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) January 31, 2022
Additionally, the statement provided facts about the arrangement that were not previously published in public court filings.
It said the McMichaels could spend their 30-year sentence in a “selected federal prison,” with the parents saying this is a “significant concession” for the men convicted of murdering their son.
Other Details About the Case
Sunday’s court document for the rejected plea offer omitted any reference to William “Roddie” Bryan, the last person convicted in the homicide.
Bryan was in another car filming the encounter, while the McMichaels were in a pickup truck armed with a gun pointed directly at Ahmaud Arbery.
Last April, a grand jury indicted all three men on hate crimes and attempted kidnapping charges. According to Reuters, Byran is scheduled to stand trial in February.
On Feb. 23, 2020, Travis McMichael shot and murdered Ahmaud Arbery. His attorneys said he acted in self-defense to Ahmaud Arbery’s attempt to seize the gun aimed at him.
In a state court filing, the McMichaels claimed they sought to arrest Ahmaud Arbery as a citizen and charge him with committing a crime in the region before the tragic incident.
The three men were convicted of most accusations brought against them in November for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery before a state court.
The McMichaels were condemned to life without parole. Bryan was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life imprisonment without the chance of release.