For the first time in the history of the state of Georgia, prosecutors have prevailed in winning convictions in a federal hate crimes trial. Just one day shy of the two-year anniversary of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, family, friends and supporters of the 25-year-old Black jogger emerged victorious from a courthouse in Brunswick, Ga, where the three men convicted of his killing were found guilty on all federal charges including kidnapping and violating Arbery’s civil rights because he was Black.
Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones and father Marcus Jones and Arbery family attorney Benjamin Crump spoke on the steps of the courthouse after the 10:30 a.m. verdict and expressed extreme satisfaction with the outcome of the trial.
During opening statements in the precedent-setting trial, Assistant US Attorney Bobbi Bernstein revealed texts Travis McMichael –– who delivered the two fatal shotgun blasts killing Arbery – in which he referred all Black people as “animals, criminals, monkeys and sub-human savages.”
Travis McMichael, reportedly texted a friend saying he loved his job because “zero n——rs work with me.” Commenting on an online video of a Black man lighting a firecracker stuffed in his nose, he messaged a friend saying: “It’d be cooler if it blew the f—-ing n——r’s head off.” Prosecutors also introduced more compelling evidence of the alleged hate crimes as witnesses testified that Travis McMichaels had expressed extreme hatred for Blacks and urged residents to run them over with their cars.
Prior to the start of the rail at least two of the defendants, Travis McMichael and his father Greg McMichael attempted to circumvent the judicial process and arranged to take a plea for better treatment and serving their sentences in a federal facility.
But on Jan. 31 a federal judge in Georgia denied the plea deal made between prosecutors and the McMichaels, both of who subsequently changed their guilty pleas to not guilty and opted to take their chances in court. The arrangement would have allowed Travis McMichael and Greg McMichael to serve 30 years in a “preferred” federal prison.
According to reports, US District Judge Lisa Goodbey Wood said in court she wasn’t willing to be bound to such terms and that in this case the family’s wishes should be considered.