Ahmaud Arbery’s parents object to the Justice Department’s hate crime admission deal

The son and father convicted of killing Ahmud Arbery have reached a plea agreement that could avoid prosecution on federal hate crime charges. Arbery’s mother denounced the deal as treason and asked the judge to reject it.

BRUNSWICK, GA (Associated Press) – A son and father convicted of killing Ahmud Arbery have reached a plea agreement that could avoid prosecution on federal hate crimes charges. Arbery’s parents denounced the deal and demanded that the judge reject it.

Lee Merritt, a lawyer for Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, told reporters outside a federal courthouse in Brunswick that she plans to ask a judge on Monday afternoon to dismiss the plea deal.

Merritt said Cooper Jones and the father of the murdered man, Marcus Arbery, are objecting to a deal that would allow Travis and Greg McMichael to serve the first 30 years of their sentences in federal prison. He said the family wanted them to be kept in state prison in harsh conditions.

Cooper-Jones described the proposed deal as “disrespectful”. “He’s crazy as hell,” Arbery told reporters.

This is an urgent news update. A previous AP story follows below.

BRUNSWICK, GA (Associated Press) – A son and father convicted of killing Ahmud Arbery have reached a plea agreement that could avoid prosecution on federal hate crimes charges. Arbery’s mother denounced the deal as treason and asked the judge to reject it.

Proposed confession agreements with Travis and Greg McMichael were filed late Sunday by prosecutors at the US Department of Justice. There was no mention of a deal with the third defendant in the case, William “Rudy” Bryan.

No details were released about the federal deals, which would not affect their murder convictions for the Arbery murder. The three men were sentenced to life in prison on January 7 after a trial last fall.

Lee Merritt, a lawyer for Wanda Cooper Jones, Arbery’s mother, said the deals would allow the McMichaels to spend their first 30 years in federal custody, and avoid harsh conditions in Georgia prisons. “This proposed appeal is a huge residence for the men who chased and killed Ahmaud Arbery.”

“Wanda Cooper-Jones has fulfilled her promise to Ahmed Arbery of fairness for her son. Today, the Department of Justice is trying to ‘rip defeat from the jaws of victory,’” Merritt tweeted.

Merritt also shared a comment by Cooper Jones: “The Department of Justice has gone behind my back to offer the men who killed my son a deal to make their prison time easier,” she said. “The Department of Justice lawyers have completely betrayed me.”

Pleading agreements require the approval of US District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood. She had scheduled a Monday morning hearing to address any remaining pre-trial issues before the jury can be selected starting February 7.

Federal hate crime charges accuse McMichaels and Brian of violating the civil rights of the 25-year-old black man by stalking him in their Georgia Coast neighborhood on February 23, 2020. Join the chase in another video that records Travis McMichael blasting Arbery with a rifle.

National protests erupted when the video footage leaked online two months later. Georgia was one of four US states that did not have a hate crime law at the time. Lawmakers quickly approved one, but it was too late for the state’s hate crime charges in Arbery’s murder.

During the state trial in Glenn County Superior Court, the defense argued that white men had the authority to stalk Arbery because they reasonably suspected he was committing crimes in their district. Travis McMichael testified that he only opened fire after Arbery attacked him with fists and tried to grab his rifle.

The federal judge ordered a jury to be selected from across the southern region of Georgia, covering 43 counties, to improve the odds of sitting for a fair and unbiased jury.

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