BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WSAV) — A federal judge rejected a plea agreement Monday that would have avoided a hate crimes trial for Travis and Greg McMichael. The judge, however, accepted their guilty pleas.
The father-son duo was convicted in late November of murdering Ahmaud Arbery.
Late Sunday night, attorneys filed court documents saying prosecution and defense reached a plea agreement for both Travis and his father, Greg McMichael. Attorneys for both McMichaels asked to have until Friday morning to decide if they’ll keep their guilty pleas or not.
The court is in recess until then, with jury selection to begin Monday, Feb. 7, at 9 a.m. A total of 16 jurors will be selected.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Travis McMichael would have served 30 years first in federal prison before serving his life without parole sentence in a Georgia prison. He originally pleaded guilty to the first count which claims he willfully interfered with Arbery based on his race.
Monday afternoon, the lead FBI agent on the investigation testified, saying their investigation found Travis McMichael frequently use racial slurs and expressed a desire for crimes to be committed against Black Americans in social media posts and in text messages.
Arbery’s parents and two aunts spoke before the judge begging her not to accept the plea agreement.
“It’s not fair to take away the victory I fought and prayed for,” Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said.
“He was killed racially,” Arbery’s father, Marcus, said. “And we want 100 percent justice, not half justice. Because you’ve got to think, if an African-American man were to do a white man like that, they would try to kill him on the spot.”
Ultimately, the judge said she did not feel comfortable being locked into the sentence set in the plea agreement and wanted to hear from all concerned parties before making that decision.