Men convicted of murdering Arbery sentenced to life in prison; one has possibility of parole
BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WTOC) - The three men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery have been sentenced to life in prison.
Travis McMichael was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 20 years. Gregory McMichael was also sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 20 years.
William “Roddie” Bryan was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.
The McMichaels and Bryan were found guilty of murdering the 25-year-old Arbery in the Satilla Shores neighborhood on Feb. 23, 2020. Three months after Arbery’s death, an attorney leaked the graphic video of Arbery’s killing. The video went viral and drew national attention.
All three suspects plead not guilty and said they pursued Arbery because they thought he was a burglar.
“As we understand it, he left his home apparently to go for a run and ended up running for his life,” said Judge Timothy Walmsley.
Friday, Ahmaud Arbery’s father, mother and sister took the stand to give their impact statements.
“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,” said Marcus Arbery, Ahmaud Arbery’s father.
“They each have no remorse and do not deserve any leniency,” said Wanda Cooper-Jones, Ahmaud Arbery’s mother.
“The loss of Ahmaud has devastated me and my family,” said Jasmine Arbery, Ahmaud Arbery’s sister.
It’s been almost two years since 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed while out for a run in the Satilla Shores neighborhood.
“That’s when he felt most alive, most free and they took all of that from him,” Marcus said.
His family, in their victim impact statements, told the court he was robbed of his life’s pleasures.
“When I close my eyes, I see his execution in my mind. Over and over. I’ll see that for the rest of my life,” Marcus said.
“He will never be able to fulfill his professional dreams, nor will he be able to start a family or even be a part of my daughter’s life,” Jasmine said.
“This verdict doesn’t bring you back, but it does help bring closure to this very difficult chapter,” Wanda said.
At the beginning of her statement, Wanda Cooper-Jones first spoke to her late son.
“I made a promise to you the day I laid you to rest. I told you I loved yo and someday somehow I would get you justice. Son, I love you as much today as I did the day you were born,” Wanda said.
Then responds to a comment made by defense attorney Laura Hogue back during the trial, where she spoke about Ahmaud’s feet.
“I wish he would have cut and cleaned his toenails before he went out for that jog that day. I guess he would have if he knew he would be murdered,” Wanda said.
Arbery’s sister Jasmine Arbery was in tears describing her brother.
“Ahmaud had dark skin that glistened in the sunlight like gold. He was tall with an athletic build,” Jasmine said.
She says these qualities are also why Arbery was targeted that day.
“These are the qualities that made these men assume that Ahmaud was a dangerous criminal and chased him with guns drawn,” Jasmine said.
Marcus Arbery and Wanda Cooper-Jones say it’s only right that their son’s killers spend the rest of their lives behind bars for a crime they were committed to follow through with.
“His killers should spend the rest of their lives thinking about what they did and what they took from us,” Marcus said.
“They were fully committed to their crimes. Let them be fully committed for the consequences,” Wanda said.
Next month, the McMichaels and Bryan face a second trial, this time in U.S. District Court on federal hate crime charges. A judge has set jury selection to begin Feb. 7. Prosecutors will argue that the three men violated Arbery’s civil rights and targeted him because he was Black. Please click here to view the federal indictment.
Support from the community
The sentencing was an emotional moment for Ahmaud Arbery’s family and supporters.
Immediately after the verdict - tears and screams of joy. Just blocks away, people came together to hear the sentence.
This is how the community celebrated Friday night - right in front of Ahmaud Arbery’s mural. The Arbery family said the sentencing helps bring closure and they never doubted they would get justice.
Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.
Almost two years after their son was killed, Arbery’s parents watched the men responsible for his death go to prison.
“When I entered the courtoom on October 18th, I sat in that courtoom for five weeks straight, but I knew that we would come out with a victory,” Wanda said.
Before the three men were sentenced, Ahmaud’s father, Marcus Arbery, said he will see his sons execution over and over for the rest of his life, but he says God saw the truth.
“Ahmaud rest in peace because mom and dad got the world for you,” Marcus said.
There’s also a sense of relief for the community that’s been backing the family since the trial. Annie Polite says she never missed a day of it. She’s 87-years-old and says when you get to that age you’ve lived through a lot.
“I was so happy because you know what, you never know how things are gonna go, especially the way the jury was weighted - 11 to 1,” Polite said.
She says this case goes beyond Brunswick, it’s touching the world.
“The whole USA, the world now knows how we can live together.”
Polite says God is real and it always goes his way.
“Even though the devil is busy, God is busier and he wants things the way he wants them and he’s working it out one city, one county, one state, one world, one person...everybody has to be in this fight in order for any of us to win.”
The family’s legal team says it’s still not over. Now they wait for the federal trial.
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