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McMichaels withdraw guilty pleas in hate crimes case

Travis McMichael awaits sentencing for murder charges at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga., on Jan. 7. Associated Press/Photo by Stephen B. Morton, file

McMichaels withdraw guilty pleas in hate crimes case

Travis McMichael and his father Greg, facing federal hate crimes charges in the 2020 killing of Ahmaud Arbery, changed their pleas to not guilty this week. The McMichaels, convicted of Arbery’s murder in a state trial in November, had planned to plead guilty to racist motives in their federal trial as part of a plea deal between defense attorneys and prosecutors. But U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Wood rejected the plea deal after Arbery’s parents protested. The deal would have sentenced the McMichaels to 30 years in prison—in addition to their life sentences on state charges—and would have transferred them from Georgia’s state prison system to federal prison, which Arbery’s parents argued provided them with more comfortable conditions. The McMichaels withdrew their guilty pleas and will stand trial next week. Jury selection starts Monday.

What are the charges? Travis and Greg McMichael and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, are each charged with one count of interference and one count of attempted kidnapping. The McMichaels also face weapons charges. Federal prosecutors will argue that the plaintiffs violated Arbery’s civil rights and targeted him because he was black. During the murder trial in November, defense attorneys said the three men chased Arbery because they had reason to believe he had committed crimes in the neighborhood.

Dig deeper: Read Sophia Lee’s report on how cases like Ahmaud Arbery’s helped spark race riots in 2020.

Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a reporter for WORLD Digital. She is a World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College graduate. She resides in Washington, D.C.



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