Three men pleaded not guilty to federal hate crimes in the death of Ahmaud Arbery
Three men accused in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery pleaded not guilty to federal hate crimes on Tuesday.
Prosecutors say the men violated Arbery's civil rights before shooting him at close range.
The men also face state murder charges in Arbery's death.
Three men accused of chasing down and shooting Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was killed while jogging last year in Georgia, pleaded not guilty to federal hate crimes on Tuesday, Courthouse News reported.
Gregory McMichael, his son, Travis McMichael, and their neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, had already been indicted by a Georgia grand jury on malice and felony murder charges.
The US Justice Department is simultaneously prosecuting the men for violating Arbery's civil rights and attempted kidnapping, as they tried to detain the unarmed jogger in a truck before his death.
Arbery was shot dead on February 23, 2020 after a run-in with Gregory and Travis McMichael. Gregory McMichael told police that he and his son believed Arbery looked like a burglary suspect, so they pursued him in a truck while carrying guns in order to make a citizens arrest.
Bryan joined the chase and recorded the close-range shooting. The footage prompted a wave of protests and demands for justice for Arbery.
The three men, who are all white, were indicted on civil rights charges on April 28. Prosecutors said they used force and threats of force to interfere with Arbery's right to use a public street, specifically because of his "race and color." Experts previously told Insider that the civil rights case may be hard to prove because motive is a key issue.
The men could face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.
Separately, a trial for the three men on state murder charges has been scheduled for October.
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