The men convicted of killing 25 year-old Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in 2020 were sentenced Friday. Father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael along with their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, were convicted on multiple murder counts in November after failing to convince a mostly white jury that they were performing a “citizen’s arrest”.
The McMichaels were both sentenced to life in prison without parole, Bryan was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.
“When I thought about this, I thought from a lot of different angles, and I kept coming back to the terror that must have been in the mind of the young man running through Satilla Shores,” Judge Timothy Walmsley said.
Before the sentences were read, Walmsley made the court sit in silence for one minute.
“That one minute represents a fraction of the time that Ahmaud Arbery was running in Satilla Shores,” he said, before going silent.
Arbery’s father, mother and sister as well as lawyers and supporters for the McMichaels and Bryan delivered statements at the Glynn County Courthouse in Georgia, hoping to convince the judge of either a stricter or more lenient sentence.
“These men have chose to lie and attack my son and his surviving family. They each have no remorse and do not deserve any leniency,” Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones said in her victim impact statement, according to CNN.
She asked that all three defendants receive the maximum punishment.
“They chose to treat him differently than other people who frequently visited their community. And when they couldn’t sufficiently scare him or intimidate him, they killed him,” Cooper-Jones said.
Arbery’s mother filed a civil lawsuit last February against prosecutors and local law enforcement initially involved in the case. Former prosecutor Jackie Johnson has already been indicted for an alleged cover up of the murder, including telling law enforcement to not arrest Travis McMichael.
During the trial, defense attorneys for the McMichaels and Bryan attempted to paint their clients as caring citizens in their community, and in some instances Arbery was made out to be a villain.
Laura Hogue, a defense attorney for Gregory McMichael said during closing statements, “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.”
In reality, Arbery was just going for his normal jog.
Defense attorneys for all three men asked the judge for life sentences with the possibility of parole.
“The man who killed my son has sat in this courtroom every single day next to his father. I’ll never get that chance to sit next to my son ever again. Not at a general table. Not at a holiday. And not at a wedding,” Ahmaud Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery, said during his statement, according to NBC.
Moving forward, according to CNN, their attorneys plan to appeal the verdicts and all three still face an upcoming federal hate crime trial in February.