Lawyers for one of the three men charged with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery has reportedly offered the prosecution a plea deal, but it was immediately rejected, according to an attorney representing Arbery’s mother.
William “Roddie” Bryan — who not only filmed the grisly killing last year but also allegedly used his own vehicle to trap Arbery on the same street in Brunswick, Georgia, where Travis McMichael, aided and abetted by his father, Gregory, trapped the 25-year-old jogger and shot him to death — apparently had his lawyers offer up the appeal as both the prosecution and defense rested their cases on Thursday.
Lee Merritt, the civil rights attorney and candidate for Texas attorney general who has long served as counsel for Arbery’s mother, told CBS News that Bryan was likely “concerned about the strength of the state’s case.”
After the prosecution received Bryan’s plea offer, they “turned it down — flat out,” Merritt said.
The terms and the timing of the reported plea deal were not immediately clear.
Bryan, who was also the subject of an unrelated child molestation investigation, did not testify in the case. However, Merritt suggested it would be naive to understate his role in Arbery’s killing.
“He’s as culpable as the other two,” Merritt told CBS News.
To be sure, Bryan is an unsympathetic figure in this case.
Glynn County Patrol Officer Ricky Minshew testified last week that Bryan told him he tried to use his truck to block Arbery multiple times. Minshew also said that Bryan failed to invoke the state’s since-repealed citizen’s arrest as a justification at the scene, unlike the McMichaels.
The rejected plea deal was just the latest instance of Bryan desperately — and unsuccessfully — trying to disassociate himself from the McMichaels.
Not only did Bryan tell investigators that Travis McMichael called Arbery a “fucking nigger” after shooting the jogger three times at close range with a shotgun, but he also had his lawyer try to submit a lie detector test in apparent hopes it would clear his name. It didn’t.
Body camera footage from a police officer who responded to the scene where Arbery was killed showed Bryan apparently pretending he had second thoughts about the shooting.
“Should we have been chasing him?” Bryan asked the officer. “I don’t know.”
Bryan has had multiple requests for bail denied. Like his co-defendants, he also faces federal hate crime charges that are separate from the current murder trial.
Bryan’s lawyer also joined attorneys for the McMichaels in arguing the jury should know that Arbery was on probation on the day of his killing. They argued that allowing Arbery’s probation into evidence might explain why he ran from the three men who were armed with visible guns and chasing the jogger in separate motor vehicles.
The attorneys also argued that, somehow, knowledge of Arbery’s probation will counter the narrative that their clients “only chased after [Arbery] because they were violent racists who did not want a Black man jogging in their mostly white neighborhood,” according to the motion the lawyers filed.
It was in that context that the prosecution rejected Bryan’s plea deal.
Closing arguments in the trial are scheduled for Monday morning.