Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Father, son sentenced to life for hate crime in Ahmed Arbery’s death

Father, son sentenced to life for hate crime in Ahmed Arbery's death

Brunswick, Ga. ( Associated Press) – White father and son who chased and killed Ahmed Arbery A Georgia neighborhood each received a second life sentence on Monday — for committing a federal hate crime, months after the first was found for murder — in a trial that took more than two years of criminal proceedings.

US District Court Judge Lisa Godbe Wood sentenced Travis McMichael, 36, and his father, Greg McMichael, 66, by reiterating the gravity of the February 2020 murder that shattered their Brunswick community., William “Roddy” Bryan, 52, who recorded the cellphone video of the murder, was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

“A young man has died. Ahmaud Arbery will be 25 years old forever. And what happened, a jury found, happened because he is black,” Wood said.

The McMichaels had previously been sentenced to life without parole in state court for Arbery’s murder and asked the judge to convert him to a federal prison. to serve his sentence, saying he was concerned about his safety in the state prison system. Bryan had previously sought to serve his federal sentence. Wood declined all three requests.

The sentences imposed on Monday put an end to a second trial against the men responsible for Arbery’s murder, including the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, as well as protests across the country against the unarmed killings. The wave ran. Black People.

In February, a federal jury convicted the McMichaels and Bryan of violating Arbery’s civil rights., concluding that they targeted him because of his caste. All three were also found guilty of attempted kidnapping, and the McMichaels were found guilty of using guns in the commission of a violent crime.

The McMichaels armed themselves with guns and used a pickup truck after they ran behind Arbery’s home on February 23, 2020. Brian, a neighbor, joins the chase in his truck and records a cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery. The shotgun McMichaels told police they suspected Arbery was a thief, but investigators determined he was unarmed and had committed no crime.

“I am very grateful,” Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, told reporters outside the courthouse after all three sentences were executed. “It has been a long battle. I am very thankful that God has given us the strength to continue the struggle.”

The hearing marked the first time the men involved in the fatal pursuit expressed any remorse for Arbery’s family. Only Travis McMichael, who fired the fatal shots, chose to remain silent when given a chance to speak on court.

Greg McMichael told Arbery’s family that his loss was “beyond details”.

“I’m sure my words mean little to you, but I want to assure you that I never wanted that,” he said. “There was no malice in my heart or in my son’s heart that day.”

Brian said he was sorry.

“I never intended to do him any harm, and I would never have played a part in what happened,” Brian said.

Serving Bryan a lesser sentence, Wood noted that he had not brought a gun to search for Arbery and preserved his cellphone video, which was important to the prosecution.

Travis McMichael’s attorney, Amy Lee Copeland, said a lighter sentence would be more consistent with what similarly charged defendants would receive in other cases, noting that the officer who killed Floyd In Minneapolis, Derek Chauvin was jailed for 21 years for violating Floyd’s civil rights, although Floyd was not charged with targeting because of his race.

Greg McMichael’s attorney, AJ Balboa, also cited Chauvin’s sentence as well as his client’s age and health problems, which he said included a stroke and depression.

During February’s hate crimes trial, prosecutors strengthened their case by showing the jury nearly two dozen text messages and social media posts that Arbery’s murder was motivated by racism in which Travis McMichael and Brian used racist slurs. and made derogatory remarks about black people.

Prosecutor Christopher Peres said the trial’s evidence proved “what so many people felt in their hearts after watching the video of Ahmoud’s tragic and unnecessary death: This would never have happened if he had been white.”

A State Superior Court judge sentenced to life imprisonment For McMichaels and Bryan for Arbery’s murder in January, both McMichaels denied any chance of parole. All three defendants are in jail in coastal Glynn County in the custody of US marshals while awaiting sentencing after their federal conviction.

Since he was first charged and convicted of murder in state court, he will be handed over to the Georgia Department of Corrections to serve a life sentence in state prison.

Copeland unsuccessfully argued for Travis McMichael to remain in federal custody, saying he had received hundreds of threats that he would be killed shortly after arriving at a state prison and that his photo was circulated over illegal phones.

“I am concerned with your honor that my client effectively faces the death penalty through a backdoor,” she said, adding that “vengeance and revenge” were not a punishing factor, even a Even for the defendant who is “publicly defamed”.

Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery Sr., said Travis McMichael showed no mercy to his son and deserved to “rot” in state prison.

“You killed him because he was a black man and you hated black people,” he said. “You don’t deserve mercy.”


Associated Press writer Sudhin Thanawala from Atlanta contributed to this story.

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