AP

Lawyer: Arbery shooter fears he’ll be killed in state prison

Aug 5, 2022, 10:18 AM | Updated: 1:51 pm

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — The white man who fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery after chasing the running Black man in a Georgia neighborhood says he fears he will be killed by fellow inmates if he’s sent to a state prison to serve a life sentence for murder.

Travis McMichael, 36, faces sentencing Monday in U.S. District Court after his conviction on federal hate crime charges in February. His defense attorney filed a legal motion Thursday asking the judge to keep McMichael in federal custody.

Attorney Amy Lee Copeland argued McMichael has received “hundreds of threats” and won’t be safe in a Georgia state prison system that is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department amid concerns about violence between inmates.

On Feb. 23, 2020, McMichael and his father, Greg McMichael, armed themselves with guns and jumped in a pickup truck to chase Arbery after he ran past their home just outside the port city of Brunswick. A neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, joined the chase in his own truck and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael blasting Arbery with a shotgun.

The killing of Arbery became part of a larger national reckoning over racial injustice amid other high-profile killings of unarmed Black people including George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky.

In Georgia, the McMichaels and Bryan were sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of Arbery’s murder in a state court last fall. They have remained in a county jail in custody of U.S. marshals since standing trial in February in federal court, where a jury convicted them of hate crimes. Each defendant now faces a potential second life sentence.

Once the men are sentenced Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood, protocol would be to turn them over the Georgia Department of Corrections to serve their prison terms for murder. That’s because they were first arrested and tried by state authorities.

For Travis McMichael, “his concern is that he will promptly be killed upon delivery to the state prison system for service of that sentence,” Copeland wrote in her sentencing request. “He has received numerous threats of death that are credible in light of all circumstances.”

Copeland said she has alerted Georgia’s corrections agency, “which has replied that these threats are unverified and that it can securely house McMichael in state custody.”

Greg McMichael, 66, has also asked the judge to put him in federal rather than state prison, citing safety concerns and health problems.

Arbery’s family family has insisted the McMichaels and Bryan should serve their sentences in a state prison, arguing a federal penitentiary wouldn’t be as tough. His parents objected forcefully before the federal trial when both McMichaels sought a plea deal that would have included a request to transfer them to federal prison. The judge ended up rejecting the plea agreement.

“Granting these men their preferred choice of confinement would defeat me,” Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, told the judge at a hearing Jan. 31. “It gives them one last chance to spit in my face.”

A federal judge doesn’t have the authority to order a state to relinquish its lawful custody of inmates to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, said Ed Tarver, an Augusta lawyer and former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.

“She can certainly make that request,” Tarver said of the judge, “and it would be up to the state Department of Corrections whether or not they agree to do that.”

Copeland’s court filing refers to a prior agreement between the judge, prosecutors and defense attorneys to keep the McMichaels and Bryan in federal custody “through the completion of the federal trial and any post-trial proceedings.” She argued that means Travis McMichael should at least remain in federal custody through appeals of his hate crime conviction.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Arizona and New York attorneys feud over extraditing suspect...

Associated Press

Why Alvin Bragg and Rachel Mitchell are fighting over extraditing suspect in New York hotel killing

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says she isn't into extraditing a suspect due to her lack of faith in Manhattan’s top prosecutor.

1 day ago

A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018. A 34-year-old Color...

Associated Press

Colorado man dies after being bitten by pet Gila monster

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death by one of the desert lizards if the creature's venom turns out to have been the cause.

3 days ago

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

10 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

11 days ago

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, and Kenya's Defense Minister Aden Duale, left, listen during...

Associated Press

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalized with bladder issue

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized following symptoms pointing to an “emergent bladder issue."

12 days ago

Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church, stands with his wife, Victoria Osteen, as he conducts a...

Associated Press

Woman firing rifle killed by 2 off-duty officers at Houston’s Lakewood Church run by Joel Osteen

A woman entered the Texas megachurch of Joel Osteen and started shooting with a rifle Sunday and was killed by two off-duty officers.

13 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Lawyer: Arbery shooter fears he’ll be killed in state prison