Two of the men serving life in prison for the 2020 murder of Ahmaud Arbery are seeking their pardon federal hate crime convictions, according to court documents filed Tuesday.
Last month, federal prosecutors argued that father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan knowingly violated Arbery’s right to enjoy a public road in Brunswick, Georgia, because his race.
In separate motions for the acquittal, McMichaels’ attorneys argued that prosecutors failed to prove the circumstances of the case, including that Arbery’s murder occurred on a public street. .
Travis McMichael’s attorney argued in the 43-page document that the neighborhood developer had offered to make the streets available for public use, but the county had not explicitly accepted that offer.
Attorneys for Gregory McMichael also claimed the government failed to prove he targeted Arbery because of his race. There is no evidence that eldest brother McMichael linked African Americans to crime or that he used racial slurs against Blacks, according to the motion, echoing arguments made in the court.
The jurors heard testimony from more than a dozen witnesses about the defendants’ racial patterns and saw Text messages and social media posts from Travis McMichael and Bryan used racial slurs. A witness testified that Gregory McMichael disparaged the late civil rights activist Julian Bond and said he wished all Blacks would die.
According to court documents, Bryan’s attorney has not filed for acquittal and the prosecution has not responded to those requests.
The jury found three white men guilty of hate crimes and the kidnapping plot in February. McMichaels was also found guilty of using, carrying and swinging – and in the case of Travis McMichael, shooting – a firearm during a violent crime.
The federal sentencing came a day before the two-year anniversary of Arbery’s death and several months after the defendants were found guilty of murder in state court and sentenced to life in prison. McMichaels will not be able to be pardoned.
Each could face an additional life sentence for federal crimes. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
Three men were arrested two months after the shooting on February 23, 2020, when Bryan’s cell phone video of the incident went public and caused nationwide outrage against what some celebrities call lynching. The murder spurred a growing nationwide anti-black racism movement.
Contributing: Raisa Habersham, Savannah Morning News