The White men — Travis McMichael and his father Gregory McMichael, along with neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, who is also White — each were convicted on a hate crime charge of interference of rights in addition to attempted kidnapping and other charges.
During closing rebuttal arguments this week, prosecutors emphasized in their argument that Arbery was killed because he was Black.
“The three defendants did not see 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery as a fellow human being,” Assistant US Attorney Tara Lyons said, calling into question a perceived lack of remorse from the defendants after the shooting.
For the federal convictions, the three men now also could get up to life in prison and steep fines. Sentencing will be scheduled after presentencing reports are filed, Judge Lisa Godbey Wood said in court.
Family critical of earlier plea deal
Cooper-Jones spoke to DOJ prosecutors and “begged them” to not take the plea deal in the case, she said.
“What we got today, we wouldn’t have gotten today if it was not for the fight that the family put up,” Cooper-Jones said. “What the (Department of Justice) did today, they were made to do today.”
Travis McMichael had agreed to plead guilty to a single hate crime charge — interference with rights — in exchange for prosecutors recommending he serve 30 years in federal prison. After completing the federal sentence, he would’ve been returned to Georgia to finish his sentence of life in prison without parole.
The Justice Department said at the time that the court’s decision would be respected, according to Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, but added in a statement that prosecutors “entered the plea agreement only after the victims’ attorneys informed me that the family was not opposed to it.”
In addition to the federal and state sentences faced by the McMichaels and Bryan, attorney Ben Crump, on behalf of the Arbery family, said they plan to bring a civil suit once the criminal proceedings are over.
CNN’s Mike Hayes, Jason Hanna, Pamela Kirkland, Eliott C. McLaughlin, Angela Barajas, Melissa Alonso and Gregory Lemos contributed to this report.