Federal prosecutors have reportedly reached plea agreements in the federal hate-crimes case against two of the three men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery.
Shooter Travis McMichael, 35, and his ex-cop dad Gregory McMichael, 66, were both handed life sentences without the possibility of parole in a state court earlier this month in the death of the unarmed Georgia jogger.
Their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, also got a life sentence, but with the possibility of parole after serving 30 years.
But the three men now face another trial on federal hate crime charges, accused in an indictment of violating Arbery’s civil rights by attacking him because of his “race and color.”
They have reportedly offered to plead guilty to the hate crimes in hopes of having their federal sentence take the place of their state life sentence – but Arbery’s mother has asked that both sentences run concurrently.
On Sunday, prosecutors in the federal hate crimes case filed documents in District Court, Southern District of Georgia, stating they’ve reached plea agreements with the McMichaels, though the details have not been made public, according to WTLV.
But Arbery’s parents, Wanda Cooper Jones and Marcus Arbery, said in a statement through their lawyers late Sunday that they are “vehemently against this deal.”
They said the US Justice Department betrayed their trust with an “unauthorized back-room plea deal,” which would allow the father and son to enter federal custody and serve the first 30 years of their sentences in a “preferred” federal lockup.
“This proposed plea is a huge accommodation to the men who hunted down and murdered Ahmaud Arbery,” the couple said a statement cited by WTLV.
“The family is devastated at the latest development. Their wishes are being completely ignored and they do not consent to these accommodations,” they added,
“The DOJ has gone behind my back to offer the men who murdered my son a deal to make their time in prison easier for them to serve,” Cooper Jones said in the statement, according to the outlet.
“I have made it clear at every possible moment that I do not agree to offer these men a plea deal of any kind. I have been completely betrayed by the DOJ,” he added.
The federal hate-crimes trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 7.
The three men thought the 25-year-old Arbery was fleeing a burglary as he ran through a mostly white neighborhood near Brunswick on Feb. 23, 2020.
The younger McMichael, who pulled the trigger, was the only one found guilty on the top charge of malice murder. His father was found guilty of the other eight counts.
Bryan, the neighbor who joined the pursuit and filmed video of the fatal shooting, was convicted on all charges except malice murder, felony murder with a shotgun and one count of aggravated assault.