SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The father and son convicted of state murder charges in Ahmaud Arbery‘s death will both stand trial for the second time in the 2020 killing.
Gregory and Travis McMichael, along with their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, now face federal charges alleging they violated Arbery’s civil rights, targeting him because he was Black.
Travis McMichael withdrew his guilty plea Friday in a five-minute hearing in Brunswick. The night prior, his father Greg McMichael did the same by filing court documents.
Earlier this week, attorneys filed court documents saying defense and prosecution reached a plea deal with the father and son. Bryan, who was also convicted of Arbery’s murder, was not part of the deal.
A federal judge later rejected the terms of the agreement but did accept the McMichaels’ guilty pleas. Attorneys were given until Friday morning to decide if they would keep those pleas.
Under the deal, the McMichaels would plead guilty, admitting they targeted Arbery based on his race. They would have to serve 30 years in federal prison before being transferred to a state prison to serve out their life sentences.
The Arbery family has strongly voiced their opposition. Before the judge rejected the terms, Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones called the deal a complete betrayal.
“All we want is 100 percent justice for our family,” Marcus Arbery, Ahmaud’s father, said in Brunswick Friday. “It’s all we’re looking for. God, be the glory.”
“It’s still the same battle. We’re just going further up the hill. So we still haven’t got to the top yet,” said Clifford Jones, an attorney for the Arbery family. “At the top is 100 percent justice for Ahmaud.”
It should be noted that although Travis McMichael originally pleaded guilty, the judge said anything he said in court during the plea hearing can’t be used moving forward.
The court is now in recess until Monday morning when jury selection is set to start. Fifty potential jurors are being summoned for questioning and the selection process is expected to take some time.
Ultimately, the judge said there will be a total of 16 jurors.
The pool is being chosen from throughout the 43-county Southern District of Georgia to improve the odds of seating a fair and unbiased jury.