Gregory McMichael withdraws hate crime plea in Ahmaud Arbery’s death

SAVANNAH, Ga. — Gregory McMichael, the retired police officer convicted in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, told a federal court on Thursday night that he has withdrawn his plans to plead guilty in federal court.

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According to The Associated Press, McMichael will not plead guilty to a federal hate crime charge and plans to stand trial, according to a legal filing by his attorney late Thursday.

McMichael, 66, reversed his plan days after a U.S. District Court judge rejected terms of a plea deal between defense attorneys and prosecutors that was opposed by Arbery’s parents.

In a notice, attorneys for McMichael said the plea agreement was “null and void,” WSB-TV reported.

McMichael will stand trial with co-defendant William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, starting on Monday, the television station reported. Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael’s 36-year-old son, has until Friday to determine if he wants to withdraw his plea agreement, which was also rejected by a judge this week, and go to trial.

>> Ahmaud Arbery case: Judge rejects hate crime plea deal for Travis, Greg McMichael

Court records filed Sunday showed the McMichaels had earlier reached the agreements with federal prosecutors, according to WSB and WJAX-TV. The McMichaels and their neighbor, Bryan, were previously convicted in state court of felony murder and other charges in the Feb. 23, 2020, death of Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man killed while jogging in the Satilla Shores neighborhood of Brunswick, Georgia.

>> Ahmaud Arbery: 3 sentenced to life in prison in murder of jogger

The McMichaels armed themselves and chased Arbery in a pickup truck after Gregory McMichael spotted Arbery running in the neighborhood, the AP reported. Bryan joined the pursuit in his own truck and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery with a shotgun.

The men, who are white, were convicted Nov. 24, 2021, of felony murder and other charges in the killing of Arbery, who was Black.

In early January, the Michaels were sentenced to life in prison without parole by Judge Timothy Walmsley, while Bryan was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

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