News January 07, 2022 at 06:18 pm

Ahmaud Arbery killing: All three White men sentenced to life in prison

Mildred Europa Taylor | Head of Content

Mildred Europa Taylor January 07, 2022 at 06:18 pm

January 07, 2022 at 06:18 pm | News

Travis McMichael (from left), William Bryan and Greg McMichael. GETTY IMAGES

Greg McMichael, his son Travis McMichael and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, who were found guilty in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, have been sentenced to life in prison.

Travis McMichael, 35, and his father Gregory McMichael, 66, were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole on Friday in Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia. Their neighbor Bryan, 52, will have to serve 30 years of his life sentence before he is eligible for parole.

Arbery, 25, was shot and killed on February 23, 2020, after he was confronted by Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis, while he was jogging outside Brunswick in Georgia. The older McMichael, who is a retired cop, had told officers that they had chased Arbery in a truck after he thought Arbery looked like a suspect who had been connected to a number of burglaries in the Brunswick area.

The third defendant, Bryan, also followed Arbery in a different truck and filmed the fatal encounter. The three White men were later arrested and charged in connection with the killing.

Prosecutors said Arbery’s death was racially motivated. However, the defense said the three men were trying to hold Arbery in a citizen’s arrest after they suspected him of burglarizing a home. They said Arbery was shot in self-defense after a struggle ensued over Travis McMichael’s gun.

In November, a nine-count indictment charged all three men with one count of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment and one count of criminal attempt to commit a felony, in this case, false imprisonment.

On Friday, Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley spoke about how the McMichaels went after Arbery after Gregory McMichael saw him running in a street.

“Ahmaud Arbery was then hunted down and shot, and he was killed because individuals here in this courtroom took the law into their own hands,” the judge said. The judge added that Arbery was chased for about five minutes and “gunned down.”

“This was a killing,” Walmsley said before announcing the sentences. “It was callous, and it occurred, as far as the court is concerned based upon the evidence because confrontation was being sought.”

During the hearing, the attorneys for the McMichaels wanted their clients to get the chance to earn parole while Bryan’s lawyer attempted to persuade the judge to let the parole board decide when Bryan could be released. Arbery’s family meanwhile asked the judge for all the three White killers to spend the rest of their lives behind bars.

“They each have no remorse and do not deserve any leniency,” Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, told the judge.

Arbery’s family had earlier this week rejected a plea deal for the three men which would have sentenced them to 30 years in federal prison on those charges.

Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney representing the Arbery family, welcomed the sentences on Friday. “But we are not done. The tragic murder of Ahmaud Arbery must not be in vain,” Crump said in a statement. “America, we are showing progress. Now is not the time to retreat. We must continue to demand better from law enforcement, from our justice system and from society as a whole.”

The three men are also facing federal hate crime charges. A separate trial in the federal case is scheduled to begin on February 7.

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