Gregory McMichael is likely to face trial on charges of hate crime brought by the federal government, due to his involvement in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in 2020. The move comes after McMichael withdrew from an agreement, deciding to plead ‘not guilty‘ to the hate crime charges. 

McMichael’s attorneys informed the court that the former plea agreement was null and void, and trial proceedings will begin Monday, February 7. As per the indictment McMichael faces federal charges of one count of interference with rights and one count of attempted kidnapping.

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He’s already been found guilty of state charges and was sentenced to life in prison in December 2021. Arbery, a black man, was chased and then gunned down, while jogging near Brunswick, Georgia. 

Travis McMichael, Gregory’s son, and the man who shot Arbery, also put in a plea deal with the prosecutors, which the federal judge proceeded to reject. His deal included him pleading guilty to a single charge of hate crime, that is, interference with rights. In exchange, prosecutors recommended that he serve 30 years in federal jail. 

Also Read | Hate crimes trial for Arbery killing will foreground racism

Once he completed his federal sentence, McMichael was supposed to return to Georgia and finish his life sentence in prison, without the possibility of parole. Meanwhile, five of those final years would be counted towards McMichael’s supervised release from federal jail. 

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Not only did Arbery’s family oppose this proposed deal, but US district judge, Lisa Godbey Wood, also expressed her discomfort with the arrangement. 

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Meanwhile, a third person had been found responsible for Arbery’s murder. McMichaels’ neighbour, William “Roddie” Bryan, was sentenced to life in prison with the chance of parole, in the state charges. He also faces hate crime charges in the federal trial. Bryan had joined the McMichaels in pursuing Arbery in his own truck and recorded a cellphone video, showing Travis shooting Arbery with a shotgun.