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3 men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery being held in federal, not state prison

Prosecutors want to avoid violating a law designed to limit the transfer of prisoners, which could cause the federal hate crimes case to be dismissed.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — (Note: The video above was originally published Jan. 7.)

The three men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery will be held in federal prison, not state custody, for the duration of their upcoming trial.

The men are being charged with hate crimes in federal court next month, following their murder convictions in Georgia state court last year. They were transferred to federal custody for an upcoming hearing, and according to the order for transfer, they were to be returned to state prison “immediately upon completion of [the hearing].”

But a motion by federal prosecutors this week notes that shuttling the men between state and federal facilities could violate an element of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers – a violation that could cause the federal case to be dismissed.

According to the motion, the purpose of the provision is “to minimize the disruption to an inmate's full and meaningful participation in the available rehabilitative programs offered by a sending state.”

The IAD provides that if "trial is not had on any indictment, information, or complaint contemplated hereby prior to the prisoner’s being returned to the original place of imprisonment . . . such indictment, information, or complaint shall not be of any further force or effect, and the court shall enter an order dismissing the same with prejudice.”

The motion continues, “Where there is a federal detainer in place, as there is in this case, the anti-shuttling provision of the IAD is violated when one jurisdiction (Georgia) sends a prisoner to a receiving jurisdiction (the United States), and then the receiving jurisdiction returns the prisoner to the original jurisdiction prior to the final resolution of the case.”

U.S. Magistrate Judge Benjamin Cheesbro granted the motion, ordering that the inmates “remain in federal custody throughout the completion of the federal trial and any post-trial proceedings.”

The next hearing in the case is Friday.

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