Men found guilty in Arbery murder will go to federal court on hate crime charges
The legal troubles for the three men found guilty in the murder Ahmaud Arbery in a Georgia court are far from over, as the trio will face federal hate crime and kidnapping charges next year.
Travis McMichael, 35, his father, Gregory McMichael, 65, and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, all faced nine criminal counts in the Georgia state court: one count of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment and one count of criminal attempt to commit a felony.
From left, Travis McMichael, his father, Gregory McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. (Glynn County Detention Center via AP, File)
Travis McMichael was found guilty on Wednesday on all nine counts in the February 2020 murder of Arbery, a Black man, in Georgia. Gregory McMichael was found not guilty on one count of malice murder and guilty on the other charges. Bryan was found not guilty of one count of malice murder, one count of felony murder and one count of aggravated assault, and guilty on the other charges.
Even after the Georgia verdict, the three men will face a federal trial on hate crime and kidnapping charges beginning in February. The Department of Justice charged the men with interfering in Arbery’s civil rights and attempted kidnapping in April. The McMichaels were also charged with using, carrying and brandishing a firearm.
The DOJ alleges the three men “used force and threats of force to intimidate and interfere with Arbery’s right to use a public street because of his race.”
Federal prosecutors also alleged that “the three defendants chased Arbery through the neighborhood, using their trucks—and in the case of the McMichaels, firearms—in an attempt to restrain Arbery, restrict his free movement, corral and detain him against his will, and prevent his escape.”
Evidence in the federal case will also likely include the video footage taken by Bryan of Travis McMichael using a racial slur on Arbery after he shot him, Savannah Now reported. That footage was not admitted as evidence in the Georgia trial.
If they are found guilty of the charges, they could face the death penalty, life in prison or another prison sentence length and a fine, the outlet reported, citing the FBI.
Travis McMichael looks back at his mother and sister in the courtroom after the jury convicted him for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in the Glynn County Courthouse, in Brunswick, Georgia, Nov. 24, 2021. (Stephen B. Morton/Pool via REUTERS)
Georgia did not bring hate crime charges against the three men because Georgia law did not have a hate crime statute. Arbery’s death, however, sparked lawmakers in the state to pass a law that allows for extra penalties for those who commit crimes based on race or other identities, such as sexual orientation.
The three men pleaded not guilty during the Georgia trial, with their defense attorneys arguing that they were trying to detain Arbery because they thought he was a burglar. Prosecutors argued during the trial that there was no evidence Arbery, who was 25 at the time of his death, committed any crimes.