Judge sentences Gregory and Travis McMichael to life for murder of Ahmaud Arbery
Gregory and Travis McMichael, white father and son convicted of murdering Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery, have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus 20 years.
A judge handed down the sentences in Glynn County, Georgia, on Friday afternoon. The McMichaels’ neighbour and co-defendant William “Roddie” Bryan Jr was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after 30 years served.
The sentence came nearly two years after the three men chased Arbery, who was unarmed, through a neighbourhood in their trucks before shooting him in February 2020. The attack was captured in footage filmed by Bryan Jr.
All three men stood trial in November on nine charges: 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 false imprisonment.
Travis McMichael was convicted of and received the top sentence for malice murder, while Gregory McMichael and Bryan Jr received their top sentences for felony murder.
Show latest update
Prosecutors ask that men convicted for Ahmaud Arbery’s murder not be allowed to make money off their actions
Prosecutors asked the judge for a condition to be imposed that would stop the three men convicted of murder from making any money off their crimes.
Making her presentation to the court, a prosecution lawyer said: “The state ask for a condition imposed along with the sentence and that is this – that defendants are not allowed to make any money off of their actions such as a book deal, a movie deal, social media deal, or anything that in any way shape or form would make any money off of this experience, this conviction, and this trial.”
She asked that should any money be made that it would go into a fund for the Arbery family.
Listen to the statement here:
Holly Bancroft8 January 2022 09:13
ICYMI: Ahmaud Arbery’s sister gives an emotional testimony about her brother
Ahmaud Arbery’s sister, Jasmine, took to the witness stand to describe her brother.
She told the judge: “Ahmaud had dark skin that glistened in the sunlight like gold. He had thick curly hair, he would often like to twist it.”
Her voice started to falter as she added: “He was tall with an athletic build. He enjoyed running and had an appreciation for being outdoors.
“These are the qualities that made these men assume that Ahmaud was a dangerous criminal and chase him with guns drawn.
“To me those qualities reflect a young man full of life and energy who looked like me and the people I love.”
She described Ahmaud as “funny” and said “he told jokes to lighten the mood”.
He “had a big personality” that was taken from him “in an instance of violence”, Jasmine Arbrey said.
“He will never be able to fulfil his professional dreams, nor will he be able to start a family, or be a part of my daughter’s life.
“The loss of Ahmaud has devastated me and my family and so I’m asking that the man that killed him be given the maximum sentence available to the court”.
Watch her statement here:
Holly Bancroft8 January 2022 08:34
ICYMI: Judge holds minute’s silence for Ahmaud Arbery
In an extraordinary moment in court, Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley interrupted his closing remarks to hold a minute’s silence.
He said that the minute only represented a fraction of the time that Ahmaud Arbery spent running for his life as three white men chased him for roughly five minutes.
Judge Walmsley said that he kept returning to “the terror” that must have been in Arbery’s mind.
He described Arbery’s ordeal, saying the young man had been “hunted down and shot”.
Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley, left, listens to prosecutor Linda Dunikoski’s opening statement during the sentencing of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan.
Holly Bancroft8 January 2022 07:37
What next after Ahmaud Arbery’s killers’ sentencing
The three white men who chased and shot dead Black 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery were sentenced to life in prison on Friday.
But this far from marks the end of the case, as Rachel Sharp explains.
Adam Withnall8 January 2022 06:53
Arbery’s death ‘should force us to consider what a neighbour may be’ – judge
In his comments during sentencing, judge Timothy Walmsley referred to a statement made by Arbery’s mother at court on Friday.
“They chose to target my son because they didn’t want him in their community,” Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery‘s mother, had said earlier. “When they couldn’t sufficiently scare him or intimidate him, they killed him.”
In his sentencing, the judge quoted the mother’s remarks, saying they struck him as “very true”.
“At minimum, Ahmaud Arbery should force us to consider expanding our definition of what a neighbour may be and how we treat them,” the judge said.
Read more about Ms Cooper-Jones’ victim’s statement here:
Adam Withnall8 January 2022 05:05
Family rejects plea deal for three killers’ federal hate crime charges
Ahead of Friday’s sentencing, it was revealed Arbery’s family rejected a plea deal that would have seen his killers spend 30 years in prison for federal hate crime charges.
The Department of Justice approached Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, earlier this week about the deal, under which Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr would be sentenced to three decades in prison if they admitted they were motivated by hate when they shot dead the Black jogger.
Ms Cooper-Jones told CBS News she rejected the deal because she wants the men to face those charges in court.
The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has more:
Megan Sheets8 January 2022 04:00
ICYMI: Victim impact statement from Arbery’s mom
Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones said her son would have cut his toenails “if he knew he would be murdered that day” as she delivered an emotional victim impact statement at the sentencing of his three murderers.
Ms Cooper-Jones referenced comments made by one of the defence attorneys at trial where they described her son’s “long, dirty toenails”, sparking outcry over the attempt to paint Mr Arbery as a criminal and not as the victim.
“Turning Ahmaud Arbery into a victim after the choices that he made does not reflect the reality of what brought Ahmaud Arbery to Satilla Shores in his khaki shorts with no socks to cover his long, dirty toenails,” Gregory McMichael’s lawyer Laura Hogue said in closing arguments.
Ms Cooper-Jones, who was wearing a badge with a photo of her son, choked back tears as she referenced the derogatory comments about her son.
The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has more:
Megan Sheets8 January 2022 03:00
ICYMI: Judge’s remarks at sentencing
Before delivering his sentencing decision, Judge Timothy Walmsley asked the court to sit in silence for one minute, saying it was a “fraction of the time that Ahmaud Arbery was running in Satilla Shores”.
“The chase in Satilla Shores went on over around a five minute period,” he said, saying he has been thinking of “the terror that must have been in the mind” of Mr Arbery during that time. As we all now know based upon the verdict in November, Ahmaud Arbery was murdered,” he said.
“It’s a tragedy, a tragedy on many, many levels. As we understand it, he left his home going for a run and ended up running for his life.”
The judge said he reached his decision to grant a lower sentence for Bryan because he believes he “stands in very different shoes” to the McMichaels.
He said he believes Bryan has shown remorse following the murder in his actions in the aftermath.
“He took steps early on in this process that demonstrated he had grave concerns that what occurred should not have occurred,” he said. “It does make Mr Bryan sit differently.”
However, he said that the verdict reached by the jury could not be disputed based on the evidence and that the outcome of the day could have ended differently if he hadn’t joined in the chase in his pickup truck.
By contrast, Judge Walmsley said that “very early on Gregory McMichael tried to establish a narrative” about the murder.
He quoted some of the 66-year-old’s statements in the aftermath including: “If I could have got a shot at the guy I would have shot him.”
He also pointed to Travis McMichael’s comments that it was the “worst day of my life”, pointing out the impact on so many other lives for the murder.
The footage of Travis McMichael “lifting the shotgun to fire at Ahmaud Arbery” showed a “truly disturbing scene” of a man who was “hunted down and shot”.
“And he was killed because individuals here in this courtroom took the law into their own hands,” he said. “When Ahmaud Arbery fell the McMichaels turned their backs.”
Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley
Megan Sheets8 January 2022 02:00
RECAP: The sentences
Travis McMichael, 35, was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole plus 20 years on nine charges including malice murder after he shot Mr Arbery twice at close range with a shotgun.
Gregory McMichael was handed life without the possibility of parole plus 20 years on eight charges including felony murder. The 66-year-old armed himself with a firearm and jumped in his truck with his son that day, chasing him “like a rat” and threatening “stop or I’ll blow your f***ing head off!”
Bryan, 52, was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after being found guilty on six charges including felony murder after jurors heard how he spotted his neighbours chasing Mr Arbery and jumped in his own truck to join in. He then used his vehicle as a “5,000-pound lethal weapon” to corner and attempt to strike the unarmed Black man.
All three were effectively handed life sentences as, under state law, life with the possibility of parole means parole can only be considered after 30 years in prison.
The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has more:
Megan Sheets8 January 2022 01:00
Ahmaud Arbery’s mother ‘very thankful’ for life sentences
Wanda Cooper-Jones told CNN that her family was “very thankful” after the three men who killed her son were sentenced to life in prison.
“They got what they truly deserved today. I think we finally got justice for Ahmaud,” she told the news network.
Graeme Massie8 January 2022 00:36