Attorneys for Gregory McMichael told the court that the prior plea agreement on the hate crime charges is null and void, according to court documents filed Thursday in federal district court. Court proceedings are scheduled to begin on Monday. He has pleaded not guilty.
Travis McMichael had agreed to plead guilty to a single hate crime charge (interference with rights) in exchange for prosecutors recommending that he serve 30 years in federal prison.
After completing the federal sentence, he would have been returned to Georgia to complete his life sentence without parole. Five of those final years would have counted toward his supervised release from federal prison.
Witnesses speaking at Monday’s plea hearing included an FBI special agent, who testified that authorities searched Travis McMichael’s cellphone and social media accounts and found “frequent use of racial slurs” in reference to to blacks.
US District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood said she wasn’t comfortable with the sentencing guidelines. Arbery’s family also opposed the deal.
The Justice Department respected the court’s decision not to accept the plea and “entered the plea agreement only after I was informed by the victims’ attorneys that the family did not object,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Civil Rights Division. he said in a statement provided to CNN.
The judge was expected to rule separately on Gregory McMichael’s same plea deal, but after the judge rejected Travis’ plea deal, attorneys for both McMichaels asked for more time to decide whether to change their pleas to guilty.
A third individual found responsible for Arbery’s murder, neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole and also faces federal hate crime charges.
CNN’s Alta Spells, Raja Razek, Maria Cartaya, Elliot C. McLaughlin, Angela Barajas and Melissa Alonso contributed to this report.