Brunswick, Ga. — Three white men convicted of murder for stalking and killing Ahmed Arbery were sentenced on Friday to prison after a judge denied any chance of parole for the father and son, who armed themselves and Launched the fatal search of a 25-year-old black man.
Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley ordered Greg and Travis McMichael to serve life without parole for Arbery’s fatal shooting and ordered their neighbor William “Roddy” Bryan to earn parole after serving at least 30 years in prison. given a chance.
“Ahmoud Arbery was hunted down and shot, and killed because the people in the courtroom here took the law into their own hands,” the judge said before the sentencing.
Walmsley said Arbery left his home for a jog and ended up running for his life for five minutes as the men chased him in pickup trucks until they eventually surrounded him. The judge observed a minute’s silence to help the house understand what that time must have been like for Arbery.
“When I thought about it, I thought from many different angles. I kept coming back to the terror that must have been in the mind of a young man fleeing the Satila shores,” he said, of a neighborhood outside the port city of Brunswick. Mentioning where Arbery was killed.
Under Georgia law, murder carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment, unless prosecutors seek the death penalty, which they had chosen in the case. The main decision for Walmsley was whether to be given a last chance to earn parole.
During the sentencing hearing, Arbery’s family asked the judge not to show any leniency.
Arbery’s sister recalled his humour, describing him as a positive thinker with a big personality. She told the judge that her brother’s skin “glowed in the sun”, having thick, curly hair and an athletic build, were factors that made her a target for men who pursued her.
“It is these qualities that made these people believe that Ahmed was a dangerous criminal and chased him away with guns. To me, those qualities reflect a young man full of life and energy who looked like me and those people. The ones I loved,” said Jasmine Arbery.
Arbery’s mother said she suffered a personal, profound loss, made worse by a trial where the men’s defense was that Arbery made poor choices that led to his death.
“It wasn’t a case of mistaken identity or misogyny. They chose to target my son because they didn’t want him in their community. They chose to treat him differently than other people who frequently visited their community.” ,” Wanda Cooper-Jones said. “And when they couldn’t scare or scare her enough, they killed her.”
The judge’s sentences matched the recommendation of prosecutor Linda Dunnikowski. She said all deserve a mandatory life sentence for “showing no sympathy for the trapped and terrified Ahmed Arbery”.
After Dunnosky revealed Friday that the McMichaels still believed he had done nothing wrong, Greg McMichael gave a cellphone video of the shooting recorded by Brian to a lawyer who leaked it.
“He believed it was going to acquit him,” the prosecutor said.
Robert Rubin, one of Travis McMichael’s defense attorneys, argued that his 35-year-old client deserved the possibility of parole. He said that Travis McMichael had “Mr. Arbery come up to him and grab the gun.” But Rubin considered his client’s decisions to arm himself and pursue Arbery as “reckless” and “thoughtless.”
“They are not evidence of a soul so darkened that it deserves to spend the rest of its life in prison,” Rubin said. “It was not a planned murder. It was a gun battle that resulted in the death of Mr. Arbery.
Greg McMichael’s attorney, Laura Hogg, said her client did not intend for Arbery to die, not drawing his gun until his son had fired his shot.
“Greg McMichael didn’t leave his house hoping to kill that day,” Hogg told the judge. “He did not see his son firing that gun with anything other than fear and sadness. What this jury found was an unintentional act. ,
Bryan’s lawyer said he showed remorse and cooperated with the police, helping them get to the truth of the cellphone video of the shooting.
“Mr. Brian is not the one who brought the gun,” said Kevin Gough. “He was unarmed. And I think it reflects their intentions.”
Brian is 52 years old, raising the possibility that he will spend the rest of his life in prison, even with the prospect of parole after serving 30 years.
The guilty verdicts against the men, delivered the day before Thanksgiving, celebrated a victory outside the Glynn County Courthouse for those who viewed Arbery’s death as part of a larger national countdown on racial injustice.
The three men were also convicted of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to false imprisonment. Travis and Greg McMichael were sentenced to an additional 20 years for aggravated assault.
The McMichaels hold guns and jump into a pickup truck as they chase Arbery while running through their neighborhood on February 23, 2020. Bryan joins the chase in his truck and captures a cellphone video of Travis McMichael recording close-range shotgun explosions at Arbery. As he threw punches and grabbed the weapon.
The killing went unnoticed until two months later, when a graphic video leaked online and sparked national outrage. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case from the local police and soon arrested the three men.
Defense lawyers have said they plan to appeal the conviction. He has 30 days after sentencing.
The following month, the McMichaels and Brian face a second trial, this time in US District Court on federal hate crime charges. A judge has set February 7 for jury selection to begin. Prosecutors would argue that the three men violated Arbery’s civil rights and targeted him because he was black.