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Judge Rejects Deal to Send Killer of Ahmaud Arbery to Federal Lockup

A federal judge rejected a plea agreement that would have averted a hate crimes trial for one of the men convicted in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood voided the agreement with Travis McMichael after hearing an emotional plea from Arbery's family members, who were opposed to the plea arrangements with McMichael and his father, Greg McMichael, USA Today reports . Wood explained it would have locked her into specific terms –including 30 years in federal prison – at sentencing. Wood said that it would be appropriate to consider the family’s wishes only at sentencing, which the proposed deal wouldn’t allow. She gave the McMichaels until Friday to decide whether they move ahead with pleading guilty. Wood did not rule on father Greg McMichael's proposed deal.

Arbery's father, Marcus, told reporters outside the federal courthouse in Brunswick, Ga., that he’s "mad as hell" over the deal, which lawyer Lee Merritt, who is representing the family, said could enable Travis and Greg McMichael to spend the first 30 years of their life sentences in federal prison, rather than state prison where conditions are tougher. "Ahmaud is a kid you cannot replace," Arbery said. "He was killed racially and we want 100 percent justice, not no half justice." Wanda Cooper-Jones, Ahmaud Arbery's mother, said the U.S. Justice Department's decision to propose the plea deal despite her objections was "disrespectful." She added, "I fought so hard to get these guys in the state prison, ... Then I got up this morning and found out they had accepted this ridiculous plea."


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