Hate crimes trial to go ahead after deal fails with Arbery’s killers

ATLANTA – Gregory McMichael, one of Ahmaud Arbery’s three killers, reaffirmed his not guilty plea in a federal hate crime case the following Thursday His proposed plea agreement was rejected by a judge, court records show. Mr McMichael’s decision virtually guarantees that he will be subject to an upcoming trial that could highlight the ugly manifestations of racism. was not brought up in the state murder trial.

Mr McMichael, 66, along with his son Travis McMichael, 36, and neighbor William Bryan, 52, were found guilty in November of the murder of Mr Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, whom they said chase in their neighborhood. a pair of trucks in February 2020. The pursuers, all white men, were sentenced to life in prison in January.

The men have also been charged federally with hate crimes and attempted kidnapping, for which they could also face life in prison. But with Monday’s approach, with jury selection set to begin, the federal case has been rocked by disagreement over the plea agreements McMichaels recently reached with the Department of Justice. Justice.

During a federal hearing in Brunswick, Ga., on Monday, Judge Lisa Godbey Wood reject the agreement that the government has reached with Travis McMichael, also essentially nullifying his father’s identical agreement.

The judge’s decision came after members of Mr Arbery’s family passionately criticized the deals in court. Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, was particularly opposed to a key provision in the agreements that would allow McMichaels to serve 30 years in federal prison, in contrast to the Georgia state prison system, which is generally considered dangerous than. .

On Thursday night, attorneys for Gregory McMichael, AJ Balbo, and the Department of Justice filed in court declaring that Mr. McMichael’s plea agreement had been withdrawn and should be considered void.

“Attorney is pleased to announce that it is ready for trial on February 7, 2022,” the parties wrote.

That means at least two of Mr Arbery’s three killers will now be on trial: As of Thursday night, the Justice Department had yet to submit any documents showing it had reached an agreement with him. Bryan. Travis McMichael is expected to appear in court Friday morning to tell the judge whether he will plead guilty or not plead guilty.

During the murder trial, prosecutors avoided emphasizing the racial aspects of the crime as they presented their case before a quasi-white jury, instead focusing on focuses on the hasty nature of the decisions three white men made that day. The men suspected Mr. Arbery of a series of break-ins in the neighborhood. After Mr. Arbery visited a house under construction – which he had stayed in numerous times before – McMichaels armed himself and gave chase in a pickup truck, with Mr. Bryan joining in by a private truck.

After a few minutes, the men used their truck to lock up Mr. Arbery. A clash ensued between Mr Arbery and Travis McMichael, who shot Mr Arbery three times with a shotgun at close range.

Evidence that the men harbored racist sentiments has emerged in pre-trial hearings and motions. A September 2020 filing in the state lawsuit indicates that the state of Georgia collected evidence including “racial” Facebook posts and text messages from Travis McMichael and Mr. description as “Johnny Rebel Facebook post about race” and “Identity Dixie Facebook post” from Gregory McMichael.

These and several other cases could now come to the fore in a federal trial after a state jury failed to get a chance to consider them. But some legal experts say it could be difficult for federal prosecutors to win convictions on hate crimes, though there will be little doubt that the men made the racist claims. clan before they drove away Mr. Arbery.

“It proves not only that they were racist, and not only that they killed Ahmaud Arbery without justification,” said Page Pate, a Georgia attorney and legal analyst. “It proves that their racism is the reason they killed Ahmaud Arbery.”

At Monday’s hearing, which focused on Travis McMichael’s proposed plea agreement, the government made clear its nuanced views on how racism fuels him.

“Travis McMichael does not belong to any hate group and did not set out on February 23, 2020 to commit an act of violence against an African American,” said Tara M. Lyons, assistant United States attorney. for said Southern District of Georgia. “But he made assumptions about Ahmaud Arbery that he wouldn’t make if Ahmaud Arbery were white.”

Travis McMichael’s attorney, Amy Lee Copeland, declined to comment Thursday night, as did J. Pete Theodocion, Bryan’s attorney.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/03/us/gregory-mcmichael-trial-ahmaud-arbery.html Hate crimes trial to go ahead after deal fails with Arbery’s killers

Fry Electronics Team

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