3 men charged in Ahmaud Arbery case plead not guilty to federal hate crime charges

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The three men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery are back in state custody tonight.

Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan were escorted to the Brunswick Federal Courthouse by U.S. Marshals on Tuesday afternoon.

That’s where each of them pled not guilty to all of the federal charges brought against them by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Georgia, at the end of April 2021.

While no cameras or electronics are allowed inside of a federal courtroom, Action News Jax Courtney Cole was inside of today’s hearing. She said it was tough for family inside the courtroom this afternoon.

Even with everyone wearing masks, you could still see how hard it was for Ahmaud Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery, to hear Gregory and Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan plead not guilty.

Attorney Lee Merritt, one of the lawyers in the family’s legal team, said today was the first time the Arbery family was in the same court room as the men accused of murdering Ahmaud.

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“When the feds stepped in it, it took a big relief off of our family. But we know that justice is...close to getting justice for my son,” said Marcus Arbery.

Marcus, was able to look the three men in the face the first time, as they walked into the courtroom in their orange prison uniforms. Emotions were high and family could be seen comforting Marcus throughout the hearing.

“There was a moment where I wanted to break down, but I remained strong. It’s hard being in a room with people that you know has taken that’s taken your loved one from you,” said Thea Brooks, Ahmaud’s aunt.

Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William “Roddi”  Bryan pled not guilty to all of the federal charges against them, including the hate crime charge.

Here’s a breakdown of those charges according to the indictment:

  • Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan are each charged with one count of interference with rights, and attempted kidnapping.
  • The interference of rights counts allege the defendants used force and threats to interfere with Ahmaud’s right to use the public street, because of his race and color.
  • Travis and Gregory were also charged with one count each of “using, carrying, and brandishing” a weapon.
  • Travis was charged with firing the weapon, in relation to a crime of violence.

If convicted of the hate crime charges, all three men could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

“The slur that Travis McMichael used once he killed Ahmaud, that let us further know that this was indeed a hate crime,” said Brooks.

The federal charges each of the men are facing are separate from the state charges they’re each facing.

Pre-trial motions in the State’s case are set to begin tomorrow.

The defense is expected to ask to introduce information about Ahmaud Arbery’s past.

We will be in the courtroom, to bring you the latest developments on this case.