A judge in Georgia sentenced Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William “Roddy” Bryan to life sentences on Friday for murder. Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was fleeing his mostly white neighborhood in February 2020 when they chased and killed him.
under Georgia By law, murder carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment unless prosecutors demand the death penalty. For the judge, Timothy Walmsley, the main decision was whether to give father and son Greg McMichael, 66, and Travis McMichael, 35, and their neighbor, Brian, 52, a chance to earn parole.
Arbery’s family made powerful statements, asking Walmsley to show no leniency.
Before the sentencing, Walmsley said: “Ahmaud Arbery was hunted down and shot, and he was put to death because the individuals here in the courtroom had taken the law into their own hands.”
Walmsley said Arbery left his home for a jog and ended up running for his life for five minutes as men chased him in pickup trucks and then surrounded him. The judge paused for a minute to help the house understand what that time must have been like for Arbery.
“When I thought about it,” he said, “I thought from many different angles. I kept coming back to the horror that must have been in the mind of a young man running from the stilt beaches.”
McMichaels would spend the rest of his life in prison. Walmsley ruled that Bryan could seek parole after 30 years, the minimum sentence allowed.
Arbery’s mother said she suffered a serious loss from a trial where the men’s defense was that Arbery made poor choices.
“It was not a case of mistaken identity or misrepresentation,” Wanda Cooper-Jones said.
“They chose to target my son because they did not want him in their community. He chose to treat them differently than other people who frequently visited his community. And when they couldn’t scare or intimidate him enough, they killed him.
Cooper-Jones denied a point made by a defense attorney that caused outrage. During the trial in November, Laura Hogg made reference to Ahmaud Arbery’s appearance, which many found to be egregious and racist.
Hogg said: “Turning Ahmaud Arbery into a hunt after the choices he made does not reflect the reality that Ahmed brought Arbery in his khaki shorts, without socks, to Satilla Shores to cover his long messy toenails went.”
On Friday, Cooper-Jones said her son is messy sometimes.
“He sometimes refused to wear socks or take good care of his nice clothes. I wish he had cleaned his toe nails before going out for that jog that day. I think if he had known that he would be murdered, he might have done so.”
Ahmed’s father, Marcus Arbery Sr. addressed Court. He said: “When I close my eyes, I see his execution over and over again in my mind. I will watch it for the rest of my life.
“They not only killed my son in broad daylight, they killed him while he was doing what he loved more than anything: running. That’s when he felt most alive, most free, and They took it all from him.”
Arbery’s sister, Jasmine Arbery, described her brother as a positive thinker with a big personality. Crying, she told the judge that her brother’s skin “glows in the sun” and has “thick, curly hair and an athletic build”.
“These qualities made these people believe that Ahmed was a dangerous criminal and pursued him with a gun,” she said. “To me, those qualities reflected a young man full of life and energy who looked like me and the people I loved.”
Prosecutor Linda Dunnikowski asked the judge for life without parole for the McMichaels and the possibility of parole for Brian. But he said that everyone deserves that mandatory life sentence.
The McMichaels grabbed guns and jumped into a truck to chase 25-year-old Arbery, after being seen running on 23 February 2020. Bryan joined the chase and recorded video of Travis McMichael’s close-range shotgun explosions.
Two months later, when the video leaked, the murder went unnoticed, sparking a national outcry. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested all three men.
Attorney Robert Rubin argued that Travis McMichael was entitled to the possibility of parole because he was fired only after “Mr.
“It was not a planned murder,” Rubin said. “It was a gunfight.”
Hogg, as for Greg McMichael, said that his client “did not see his son firing that gun with anything other than fear and sadness”.
Brian’s lawyer said he showed remorse and cooperated with the police.
Next month, the McMichaels and Brian will face a second trial on federal hate crime charges. Prosecutors would argue that the men targeted Arbery because he was black.
On Friday, Ben Crump, a prominent civil rights lawyer, said: “These brutal crimes almost go unpunished because of the deep corruption that permeates many of our systems.”
He continued: “The tragic murder of Ahmaud Arbery should not go in vain. America, we are showing progress. Now is not the time to back down. We must demand the best from law enforcement, from our justice system, and from our society as a whole. should remain.”