Three men convicted of manslaughter for stalking and killing Ahmed Arbery were sentenced today to prison, after a judge denied any chance of parole for the father and son, who armed themselves and the 25-year-old The deadly search for the black man began.
urder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison under Georgia law unless prosecutors seek the death penalty, which they chose for Arbery’s fatal shooting.
For Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley, the main decision was whether to give Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddy” Bryan one last chance to earn parole.
The judge ordered both McMichaels to spend life without parole. Brian was granted parole, but would first have to serve at least 30 years in prison.
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.
Before the sentencing, Walmsley observed a minute’s silence to help scope out what those five minutes 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.
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 was “glowing in the sun,” thick, curly hair and an athletic build, which made him a target for men who pursued him.
“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 represent a young man full of life and energy who looked like me and the people I loved.” loved it,” Jasmine Arbery said.
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,” said Wanda Cooper-Jones. often visited his community. “And when they were unable to intimidate or intimidate him enough, they killed him.”
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 frightened 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 fight that resulted in Mr Arbery’s death.”
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 convictions. 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.