Update, 4:17 p.m. (EST):
A judge has rejected a plea deal that would have spared two of Amaud Arbery’s convicted killers from standing trial on federal charges related to the slain man’s civil rights.
According to the Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood said the proposed plea deal did not consider the wishes of Arbery’s family, who said they were against it. The plea deal would have allowed father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael to serve the first 30 years of their life sentence in federal prison instead of state prison.
The McMichaels have until Friday to decide whether they still intend to plead guilty.
Federal prosecutors have reached a plea deal with two of Ahmaud Arbery’s murderers, which could mean they will not stand trial on federal hate crime charges related to the Black man’s February 2020 slaying.
Father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael, 64 and 34, were charged with violating Arbery’s civil rights and targeting him due to his race. The deal was reached on Sunday and formally introduced to the court on Monday to be approved, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Lee Merritt, the attorney representing Arbery’s mother, told the news outlet that the deal allows the McMichaels to serve the first 30 years of their sentence in a “preferred” federal prison as opposed to state prison.
Travis McMichael’s lawyer, Jason Sheffield, went on to confirm the plea deal, telling the Journal-Constitution that the McMichaels would plead guilty to interfering with Arbery’s rights for a 30-year sentence in federal prison.
Both Arbery’s mother and father reportedly disagree with the plea deal and plan to contact the Department of Justice regarding the matter.
In a statement issued to Al Jazeera, Arbery’s mother said she was “completely betrayed by the DOJ lawyers.”
“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,” she also said.
Meanwhile, Arbery’s father said he was “mad as hell” about the deal that would spare his son’s killers from a federal trial.
“Ahmaud is a kid you cannot replace. He was killed racially and we want 100 percent justice, not no half justice,” he said, according to the Associated Press.
On the state level, the McMichaels were convicted of capital murder and various charges, including aggravated assault, and were sentenced this month to life in prison without parole for killing Arbery as he jogged in Brunswick. William Bryan Jr., 50, received life with the possibility of parole for trapping Arbery with his truck while filming the deadly encounter.
It is unclear whether Bryan has been offered a plea deal for federal hate crime charges related to Arbery’s murder.
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[Featured image: Ahmaud Arbery/Handout; Gregory and Travis McMichael/Glynn County Detention Center]