Ahmaud Arbery's mother feels ' completely betrayed' by DOJ's hate crimes plea deal

Ahmaud Arbery's killers face possible federal hate crime trial after state murder convictions

Ahmaud Arbery's parents slammed prosecutors for a proposed plea deal that could have let their son's killers dodge trial on federal hate crime charges.

Prosecutors for the U.S. Justice Department filed a notice of plea agreements for Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, late Sunday.

A composite photo of Ahmaud Arbery and his three convicted killers: William "Roddie" Bryan, Travis McMichael and Greg McMichael.

A composite photo of Ahmaud Arbery and his three convicted killers: William "Roddie" Bryan, Travis McMichael and Greg McMichael. (Ahmaud Arbery photo courtesy of his family / Fox News screen grabs from trial)

"The DOJ has gone behind my back to offer the men who murdered my son a deal to make their time in prison easier to serve," said Arbery's mother Wanda Cooper-Jones. "I have been completely betrayed by the DOJ lawyers."

U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood rejected the proposed plea deals Monday afternoon, saying it would have forced her to impose 30 years in prison at sentencing. Wood said it was necessary to consider the family's wishes at sentencing, which wouldn't be possible with an inflexible prison term. The McMichael's have until Friday to decide whether to plead guilty.

In November, a Georgia state jury convicted the McMichaels and a third defendant, their neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, for Arbery's 2020 murder. 

MEN FOUND GUILTY IN ARBERY MURDER WILL GO TO FEDERAL COURT ON HATE CRIME CHARGES

All three men were sentenced to life in prison on Jan. 7. There was no mention of a deal for Bryan in the federal case.

The trio are slated to go to trial Feb. 7 in the U.S. Southern District of Georgia on hate crime charges that allege they violated the 25-year-old's civil rights by targeting him because he was Black. 

Ahmaud Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, leaves the podium after giving her impact statement during the sentencing of Greg McMichael, his son, Travis McMichael, and their neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Ahmaud Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, leaves the podium after giving her impact statement during the sentencing of Greg McMichael, his son, Travis McMichael, and their neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)


An attorney for Arbery's parents, Lee Merritt, said the family objected to the deal because it could let the McMichaels spend the first 30 years of their sentences in a cushy federal prison rather than a harsher state prison. 

AHMAUD ARBERY TRIAL VERDICT: TRAVIS MCMICHAEL FOUND GUILTY ON ALL COUNTS

Before the hearing Monday, Arbery's father, Marcus Arbery, told reporters outside the federal courthouse that he was "mad as hell."

Marcus Arbery, father of Ahmaud Arbery, takes his seat during a pretrial hearing for Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Marcus Arbery, father of Ahmaud Arbery, takes his seat during a pretrial hearing for Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool) (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Almost two years ago, on Feb. 23, the McMichaels grabbed their guns and pursued Arbery after spotting him running in their neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon outside the port city Brunswick. 

Bryan joined the chase and recorded Travis McMichael blast Arbery in the chest with his shotgun on his cellphone after the two struggled over the gun.

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During the state trial, Travis McMichael testified that he and his father chased Arbery through the neighborhood in their pickup truck for five minutes because they suspected the young man was a burglar, and they were trying to make a citizen's arrest. 

He told jurors he shot Arbery in self-defense after he was attacked. Arbery was unarmed, and there is no evidence he had stolen anything.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.