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Gregory McMichael won't plead guilty in federal hate crime case in Ahmaud Arbery killing

Gregory McMichael and son Travis McMichael were convicted on state counts in Arbery's death.

Gregory McMichael, one of two men convicted in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, won’t plead guilty in a federal hate crime case against him, court records filed Thursday show.

Lawyers for McMichael also said in the filing that they are ready for a trial to begin Monday.

Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael were convicted in state court in Georgia in November of murder in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in 2020. They were sentenced to life in prison.

The McMichaels, who are white, were also charged federally last year with hate crimes and attempted kidnapping, accused of targeting Arbery, a Black man, because of his race.

U.S. District Judge Lisa Wood on Monday rejected the terms of a proposed plea deal for the McMichaels, which would have called for 30-year sentences to be served at the same time as the state life terms.

The Arbery family objected to the deal, saying it would have allowed the McMichaels to serve the first 30 years of their sentences in a federal prison, which they said were the men’s preferred conditions of confinement.

Prosecutor Tara Lyons said in court Monday that prosecutors were led to believe that the family did not oppose a plea agreement but that in meetings the day before “it was apparent that that was not accurate.”

The judge gave the McMichaels until Friday to decide whether to plead guilty knowing there would be no guarantees.

Court records indicate that a hearing for Travis McMichael is scheduled for Friday.

Travis McMichael and Gregory McMichael armed themselves and pursued Arbery in a truck after they saw him running through their neighborhood of Satilla Shores in Brunswick on Feb. 23, 2020.

Travis McMichael fatally shot Arbery. The defense tried to argue that they were conducting a citizen’s arrest, that they thought Arbery was a burglar and that McMichael fired in self-defense.

A nearly all-white jury convicted the McMichaels and another man, neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, who also was involved and chased Arbery. Bryan was also sentenced to life, but he could eligible for parole after 30 years.