The three white men convicted of a federal hate crime for killing Ahmaud Arbery in 2020 will have their appeals heard by a federal court in March.
On Feb. 23, 2020, in Brunswick, Ga., father and son Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan chased Arbery, 25, in their pickup trucks before shooting him. All three were convicted of murder in a Georgia state court in February 2022.
Their conviction came after family members, civil rights advocates and prosecutors alleged Arbery was killed because he was Black. During the trial, prosecutors showed that Bryan had previously used racist slurs in text messages to express his anger over his daughter dating a Black man.
A witness also testified that Greg McMichael had said in 2015 that “Blacks are nothing but trouble,” and attorneys showed that Travis McMichael had commented on a 2018 Facebook video of a Black man playing a prank on a white person that he’d “kill that f—ing n—-r.”
The three men stood trial on hate crime charges in a U.S. District Court shortly after their state convictions, but denied having racist motives.
Though the McMichaels had entered guilty pleas to the hate crimes in exchange for being able to serve their sentences in federal prison, Judge Lisa Godbey Wood rejected the deal. The father-son duo received life prison sentences for the hate crime convictions, while Bryan was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
The McMichaels and Bryan are now asking the court to throw out the hate crime convictions, according to The Associated Press. Oral arguments before the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals have been scheduled for March 27 in Atlanta.
Attorneys for the three men argue in court filings that their clients chased Arbery because they believed he was a criminal, not because of his race, but prosecutors argued otherwise.
The McMichaels and Bryan were also found guilty of attempted kidnapping. The father-son duo were also convicted of the use of a firearm in the commission of a violent crime.
The men currently have pending appeals for their murder convictions in a Glynn County Superior Court.