Breaking News
More () »

Ahmaud Arbery's parents say DOJ 'betrays' their trust with plea deal in federal case for 2 men convicted of Arbery's murder

Federal prosecutors wrote in late night filings Sunday they've reached plea agreements with Gregory and Travis McMichael.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Late Sunday night, prosecutors in the federal hate crimes case against the three men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery filed documents stating they've reached plea agreements with Travis and Gregory McMichael.

The agreement itself has not yet been made public. Prosecutors said in the filings a copy of the agreement, though, has been provided to the court for consideration. 

Arbery's parents issued a statement Sunday night through their attorneys that said they're "vehemently against" the proposed deals. Wanda Cooper Jones and Marcus Arbery said the Department of Justice betrayed their trust with an "unauthorized back-room plea deal."

The statement goes on to say Arbery's parents expressed their feelings about the plea deals on calls with DOJ officials Sunday. The statement says the proposed deals would allow both McMichaels to enter federal custody and serve the first 30 years of their sentences in federal prison.

Both men were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole earlier this month in the state case. 

"This proposed plea is a huge accommodation to the men who hunted down and murdered Ahmaud Arbery. The family is devastated at the latest development. Their wishes are being completely ignored and they do not consent to these accommodations," the statement said.

Cooper Jones was quoted in the statement saying, "The DOJ has gone behind my back to offer the men who murdered my son a deal to make their time in prison easier for them to serve. I have made it clear at every possible moment that I do not agree to offer these men a plea deal of any kind. I have been completely betrayed by the DOJ." 

Arbery's mother will oppose the proposed pleas in court at Monday's scheduled hearing.

Prosecutors go on to ask in the filing that the court schedule a proceeding to discuss the plea agreement and "accept the defendant's plea as set forth in the proposed agreement." 

First Coast News reached out to the DOJ Sunday night regarding the deals and Arbery's parent's response. FCN is waiting to hear back.

The filings come on the eve of what was supposed to be the last hearing before the federal hate crimes trial starts on Feb. 7. 

In early January, the Department of Justice approached Arbery's parents about a plea deal for both of the McMichaels. That deal stated the McMichaels would serve 30 years each if they admitted they were motivated by hate. Arbery's parents passed on that deal.

Gregory and Travis McMichael, along with their former neighbor, William Roddie Bryan, are charged with federal hate crimes and kidnapping in the death of Arbery. Bryan is not named in the newest filings for the plea agreements.

All three were convicted of first degree murder in state court in November. The McMichaels were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, and Bryan was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.


Before You Leave, Check This Out