May 24, 2022

Federal Judge rejects plea deal for men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery

Just because a crime happens between people of a different race doesn’t mean a hate crime occurred. However, sometimes it’s difficult to separate the underlying tensions from the actual evidence.

U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood rejected a hate crime plea deal in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, Newsmax reported. The victim’s family felt this would have been too easy on his killers, who admitted hunting Arbery down and shooting him because he was black.

Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael were convicted in a Georgia court for Arbery’s killing. The two men chased down and shot Arbery as he was running through their neighborhood, with a third man, William “Roddie” Bryan, joining in.

After the video of the incident went viral, all three men faced federal hate crime charges for targeting the victim based on his race. Both father and son were attempting to take the federal plea deal that would have them serve 30 years in a federal penitentiary for their hate crime before being transferred back to Georgia to serve out a life sentence.

Travis McMichael admitted in a court of law that the killing was racially motivated and would take the penalty. However, the judge rejected the deal as the family fought to have it thrown out.

“Please listen to me,” the victim’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said to the judge. “Granting these men their preferred choice of confinement would defeat me. It gives them one last chance to spit in my face.”

The judge claimed it was because of the restrictions in sentencing but made it clear Arbery’s family would have a say in whatever sentencing eventually occurred. With Travis McMichael’s deal being nixed, it’s unknown if he will withdraw his plea or how Greg McMichael will proceed.

This case is complicated and fraught with pain and anger with the added dimension of race. However, the American judicial system promises a fair trial and equal treatment under the law — even if it is sometimes imperfect.


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