Travis McMichael’s lawyers fear for his life in state prison

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Aug. 6 – Lawyers for the man who killed Ahmaud Arbery on Thursday requested that he be sent to federal prison first, saying Travis McMichael’s life will be in danger in a Georgia jail.

McMichael, 36, his father Gregory McMichael, 66, and William Roddie Bryan, 52, will be convicted Monday in U.S. court in Brunswick for federal hate crimes, including attempted kidnapping and violation of Arbery’s right to use a public street because of his skin color. The three white men have already been sentenced to life in state prison after a Glynn County jury found them guilty on Nov. 24, 2021, of murder in the shooting of the 25-year-old black man.

Travis McMichael has been in solitary confinement at the Glynn County Detention Center since his arrest in May 2020 and has received more than 800 death threats, attorney Amy Copeland said in the motion. The threats include warnings that inmates are “waiting for him” after his photos were circulated via social media for “contraband” in the Georgia State Prison system, she said.

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Travis McMichael shot the unarmed Arbery with a 12-gauge shotgun on a street in Satilla Shores on February 23, 2020, ending a harrowing incident in which Arbery ran for his life through the streets of the neighborhood as the three men chased him. in pickup trucks.

All three have been held in protective custody at the county jail since their arrest in May 2020 by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Copeland said Travis McMichael fears for his life if he is placed in the general inmate population of a Georgia prison. In addition to publicizing McMichael’s role in the racially charged and highly publicized murder, Copeland said prison violence in Georgia is well-documented as a result of a 2021 U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the state’s correctional facility.

“His concern is that he will be killed immediately upon delivery to the state prison system for serving that sentence,” the motion states. “He has received numerous death threats that are credible in the face of all circumstances, and the government is investigating the Georgia DOC’s ability to keep prisoners safe in a system where the murder rate has tripled.

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“There are several legal goals of punishment… Retaliation and revenge are not one of them, no matter how unpopular the suspect is.”

Copeland asked the courts to consider sending McMichael to serve his federal sentence before serving his state sentence.

“Due to the multiple threats against McMichael and the government’s investigation into the violence in Georgia’s state prisons, ideally McMichael should remain in physical custody of the federal government for the duration of his concurrent federal sentence, but at least for all” post-trial procedure,” the motion read.

All three men could face life imprisonment on federal convictions, with between seven and 20 additional years on lower charges. Both McMichaels were also found guilty of brandishing a firearm when committing a violent crime.

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Travis McMicheal is also guilty of firing a firearm in a violent crime.

Attorneys for Gregory McMichael filed a similar motion Monday requesting that the elder McMichael be sent to federal prison first. Attorney AJ Balbo’s motion cited the threat to McMichael because of the cursory publicity surrounding the case, as well as the Justice Department’s investigation into the state prison system. It also noted Gregory McMichael’s ill health, including a history of stroke, high blood pressure, and depression.

Both McMichaels originally planned to avoid a federal trial by accepting a plea deal that would have allowed them to serve time in federal prison before serving time in state prison.

Arbery’s parents strongly objected to the deal, particularly the stipulation of federal time over state time.

U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood ultimately rejected the deal.

The McMichaels then withdrew their intentions to plead guilty.

Sentencing begins at 10 a.m. at the federal courthouse at 801 Gloucester St., Brunswick.

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