A federal judge on Monday rejected a plea agreement on federal hate crime charges between prosecutors and a man convicted in the 2020 murder of Ahmaud Arbery, according to multiple reports, following impassioned testimony from Arbery’s family members who said they felt betrayed by the offer.

Key Facts

The father-and-son pair of Gregory and Travis McMichael—who were convicted of murder in Georgia state court last year—had reached an agreement that would have allowed them to spend the next 30 years in federal prison rather than state prison.

Arbery’s family members and their attorneys said they felt blindsided by the offer, which they said came without consulting them.

In a court appearance Monday, Travis McMichael admitted he went after Arbery, an unarmed 25-year-old Black man, because of his race before Judge Lisa Wood rejected his plea agreement.

Wood has not yet ruled on the deal for Gregory McMichael, who is scheduled to make a court appearance after his son Monday afternoon.

Crucial Quote

“I told them very, very adamantly that I wanted them to go to state prison and do their time,” Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, said Monday. “Then I got up this morning and found out they had accepted this ridiculous plea. It’s very disrespectful.”

Surprising Fact

Prosecutors did not appear to extend a deal to William “Roddie” Bryan, a neighbor of the McMichaels who helped chase down and kill Arbery on February 23, 2020.

Key Background

Bryan and the McMichaels were convicted of murder after a November trial that drew widespread media attention, given the high-profile nature of the case. Arbery’s vigilante-style killing and the initially sluggish response by authorities drew national outrage in 2020 and galvanized Black Lives Matter protesters just before the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, which led to the largest demonstrations seen in the U.S. in generations. Prosecutors at the trial successfully countered the defense’s argument the men acted in self-defense, saying that was impossible since they acted as armed aggressors, chasing down and cornering Arbery with pickup trucks before Travis McMichael confronted Arbery and shot him with a shotgun.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Source: Forbes

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