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Gregory McMichael to plead not guilty to hate crime after judge rejects plea deal for Arbery killers

Octavio Jones / Associated Press

Gregory McMichael, one of the men convicted in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, is pleading not guilty to a federal hate crime charge after a judge rejected a proposed plea deal in the case.

Court documents on Thursday showed that McMichael has withdrawn his offer to plead guilty in a federal hate crimes case and reaffirmed his not guilty plea, The New York Times reported.

The decision comes after U.S. District Judge Lisa Wood on Monday rejected a plea agreement between federal prosecutors and McMichael’s son, Travis McMichael. That decision essentially nullified the identical deal the elder McMichael had reached with prosecutors, according to The Times.

Travis and Gregory McMichael and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan were convicted of murdering Arbery and sentenced in January to life in prison. Both of the McMichaels’s sentences carried no possibility of parole.

In February 2020, the McMichaels and Bryan chased Arbery in a truck while he was jogging through their neighborhood. Shortly after they confronted him with a shotgun, Travis McMichael shot Arbery three times.

The three men also face hate crime and kidnapping charges. Travis McMichael for the first time admitted that he pursued Arbery because of his race, and was attempting to change his plea to guilty in the federal trial, as part of the agreement rejected by Wood.

The details of the plea deal were not disclosed, but Arbery’s family vocally opposed the agreement. 

“This back room deal represents a betrayal to the Arbery family, who is devastated,” S. Lee Merritt, the attorney for Arbery’s mother, said.

The men could face additional life sentences for the hate crime and kidnapping charges. 

Travis McMichael is set to appear in court Friday to say how he will plead to hate crime charges. The Justice Department had not yet filed documents indicating it had reached a deal with Bryan as of Thursday evening, according to The Times.

Tags Ahmaud Arbery Gregory McMichael Hate crime Murder of Ahmaud Arbery Travis McMichael William “Roddie” Bryan

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