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Three men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery have been sentenced to life in prison on Jan. 1, 2022. Judge Timothy Walmsley denied Gregory and Travis McMichael — father and son — the possibility of parole.
The judge granted William “Roddie” Bryan the possibility of parole. Bryan is the neighbor of McMichaels’ who joined the chase and took the video of the father-son duo killing Arbery.
Before Judge Walmsley handed down his sentence for the three men, Arbery’s loved ones asked him to give the three defendants the harshest sentence possible. They shared memories of the deceased and how his death has taken its toll on their lives with the court.
The victim’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, stated, “Your honor, these men have [chosen] to lie and attack my son and his surviving family, they each have no remorse and do not deserve any leniency.” She added, “These men deserve the maximum sentence for their crimes.”
A jury found Travis McMichael guilty of nine charges — criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment, false imprisonment, two counts of aggravated assault, four counts of felony murder, and malice murder — on Nov. 24, 2021. He was the man who actually pulled the trigger ultimately leading to Arbery’s death.
The jury found the McMichael father guilty of all the same charges except the malice murder charge. They found Bryan guilty of six charges including three counts of felony murder.
Arbery was chased down by the three men on Feb. 23, 2020. The 25-year-old victim ran for his life on foot as the three men chased him down — in their trucks — through the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia. It was over two months before the men were arrested for the heinous crimes.
The reason the men were finally arrested was that Bryan released the video he recorded. Later, the footage became a vital piece of evidence in the murder trial. The video fueled a racial justice protest across the United States.
The jury deliberated for two days before coming back with a guilty verdict for the three men. They were taken to Glynn County jail after the verdict was read.
Before Judge Walmsley sentenced the men to life in jail, he held a moment of silence to represent a fraction of the time Arbery was running before he was murdered. The judge called the footage of Arbery having a shotgun aimed at him by Travis McMichael “absolutely chilling.”
He added the incident “was callous and it occurred … because confrontation was being sought.” Walmsley also quoted statements the three men gave during the trial. He said that their words gave context to the vicious footage and helped to guide his decision in sentencing.
The judge sentenced the men to the minimum penalty required by law for the murder charges. It was also Walmsley’s duty to determine whether or not the men deserved a chance of parole.
Written by Sheena Robertson
USA Today: 3 men sentenced to life in prison for Ahmaud Arbery’s murder; parole denied for father, son; by N’dea Yancey-Bragg and Raisa Habersham
The New York Times: Three Men Sentenced to Life in Prison in Arbery Killing; by Richard Fausset
Independent: What Ahmaud Arbery’s murder means to me, the white mother of a Black son; by Diane Bonina
Inset Image Courtesy of Steve Devol’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image by Glendale United Methodist Church – Nashville Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License
Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Jimmy Emerson, DVM’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License