Ahmaud Arbery's family rejected plea deal for hate crime charges

·2 min read

The family of Ahmaud Arbery rejected a plea deal in the federal civil rights case of two of the men convicted of shooting and killing Arbery while he was jogging in a Brunswick, Georgia, neighborhood in February 2020, the family's attorney said.

Earlier this week, the Department of Justice approached Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, about a plea deal that would have Travis McMichael, 35, and his father Gregory McMichael, 66, spend 30 years in prison if they admit that what they did was motivated by hate, according to Arbery family lawyer Lee Merritt.

Cooper-Jones told "CBS Mornings" she rejected the deal because she wants the men to stand trial in court for those charges.

"I think that the federal charges are just as important as the state charges and I think that they need to stand trial for those charges as well," Cooper-Jones said.

Both McMicheals along with neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan were convicted of state murder charges in November. All three men will be sentenced for those charges on Friday

Along with the state charges, the three are being charged with federal hate crimes that accuse the defendants of using force and threats of force to intimidate and interfere with Arbery's right to use a public street because of his race.

Merritt says he believes that the offered plea deal shows how "shocked" the McMichaels were at the outcome of the case.

"I think they [Travis and Gregory McMichael] were shocked by the outcome in this case as much of the nation was. And now they're going to have to stand trial before some of the best attorneys in the country, out of the Department of Justice, and they're going to have to admit to the hateful nature of what they did," said Merritt.

In a separate case, Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was convicted in the death of George Floyd, accepted a plea deal in in the federal civil rights case against him.

Merritt believes that both these cases show how serious the Department of Justice is about getting justice when it comes to crimes ruled by a court to be bias-motivated.

"I think it shows that we have a Department of Justice that is aggressively pursuing hate crimes, that it is aggressively pursuing accountability in cases where we haven't seen that before," Merritt said.

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