Ga. man who started the pursuit of Ahmaud Arbery asks for leniency in hate crime sentencing

Greg McMichael, 66, is scheduled to be sentenced of hate crimes Monday in U.S. District Court along with his adult son, Travis McMichael, and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan.

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — The white man who initiated the neighborhood chase that resulted in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery is asking a federal judge to show leniency when he’s sentenced next week for a federal hate crime conviction.

While Greg McMichael deserves “a substantial period of incarceration,” his defense attorney said in a legal filing, he should be spared a life sentence — though he has already been sentenced to life without parole on a separate murder conviction. McMichael also wants the judge to transfer him to a federal prison so that he avoids serving time for Arbery’s murder in Georgia’s state prison system, which can’t ensure his safety from attacks by other inmates, the lawyer said.

McMichael, 66, is scheduled to be sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court along with his adult son, Travis McMichael, and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan. A jury convicted all three in February of committing hate crimes, concluding 25-year-old Arbery had been targeted because he was Black.

The McMichaels armed themselves with guns and jumped in a pickup truck to chase Arbery after they spotted him running in their neighborhood outside the port city of Brunswick on Feb. 23, 2020. Bryan joined the pursuit in his own truck and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael blasting Arbery with a shotgun.

The McMichaels said they suspected Arbery was a burglar, though investigators determined he was unarmed and had committed no crimes when he was killed. Still, no one was charged until more than two months later, when the graphic video of the shooting leaked online and sparked a national outcry.

The McMichaels and Bryan each face the possibility of an additional life sentence when U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood decides their punishment. They have appealed their November convictions and life sentences for Arbery’s murder in state court, hoping to get them overturned.

Greg McMichael’s defense attorney, A.J. Balbo, in his legal filing Monday didn’t downplay the seriousness of the federal hate crimes case.