The three men who were convicted Wednesday of the murder of Ahmaud Arbury are to be sentenced to life imprisonment under Georgia law, and a judge will decide whether they can be considered for parole after 30 years or should die instead. prison.
All three – Travis McMichael; his father, Gregory McMichael; and their neighbor William Brian – were taken to the Glynn County Jail after being convicted of the murder of Travis McMichael, who was shot by Mr. Arbury in February 2020.
Each defendant is charged with one charge of premeditated murder and four counts of murder. The jury found only Travis McMichael guilty on a murder charge, which means they concluded that he intended to kill Mr. Arbury. They acquitted two other men on this charge, but found them both guilty of murder, which is used when someone commits a felony and causes someone else’s death.
Both types of murder charges carry the same penalty, which requires the judge to be sentenced to life in prison, but allows the judge to decide whether the accused should be eligible for parole. Even if the judge grants parole, the defendants will not be eligible under Georgian law until they have served 30 years in prison. Both charges could also lead to the death penalty, but the prosecutor’s office did not seek it in this case.
Judge Timothy R. Walmsley, who oversaw the trial, will issue sentences to the men following an unscheduled hearing. At the hearing, male prosecutors and lawyers will be able to defend their preferred verdict, and Mr. Arbury’s relatives can also submit a victim impact statement to the court.
“The judge went through the whole case,” said Sarah Gerwig-Moore, professor of law at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. “There is evidence that the jury never heard what the judge heard, and he could accept it. into consideration when passing judgment. “
When sentencing men, the judge takes into account a number of aggravating and mitigating circumstances. It is unlikely that the jury’s decision to acquit Gregory McMichael and Mr Brian on charges of premeditated murder will have serious consequences, experts say, although the judge may take into account that it was Travis McMichael and not two other men who pulled the trigger. …
“The fact that they didn’t actually shoot could be taken into account,” said Melissa D. Redmon, a former Fulton County, Georgia attorney who is now an assistant professor at the University of Georgia Law School. “However, by law they carry the same blame.”
Even if a judge allows any of the men to seek parole after 30 years, Ms Redmon said, people serving life sentences rarely qualify for parole once they become eligible. From that moment on, people serving sentences are subject to parole at least once every eight years.
The three men, all of whom are white, have also faced federal hate crime charges after Justice Department prosecutors accused them of violating the right of Mr. Arbury, who is Black, to use a public street because of his race. They also accused all three of the attempted kidnapping, and they accused Travis and Gregory McMichael of using, carrying and waving firearms. The trial is scheduled for February.