Three men who chased, murdered Ahmad Arbery sentenced to life in prison, two without possibility of parole

Three men who chased and murdered 25-year-old jogger Ahmaud Arbery in South Georgia were sentenced to life in prison Friday, with two being sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

Travis McMichael, 35, his father, Gregory McMichael, 66, and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan were convicted in November on several charges, including felony murder, for Arbery’s death.

Judge Timothy Walmsley sentenced the McMichaels to life in prison without the possibility of parole, while Bryan was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. The 52-year-old will be eligible for parole under Georgia law only after he has served 30 years in prison because he was convicted of serious violent felonies.

Prior to sentencing, Judge Walmsley held a minute of silence, saying it “represents a fraction of the time Ahmaud Arbery was running” through the neighborhood outside Brunswick before he was killed on February 23, 2020.

Walmsley said at the hearing in Glynn County Court in Brunswick that he gave the McMichaels the harshest sentence possible, this was in part because of their “callous” words and actions captured on video.

“It was a chilling, truly disturbing scene,” the judge said of the frame in a mobile phone video of the killing where Travis McMichael begins to lift his shotgun at Arbery while the 25-year-old is about six metres away. He said Arbery was “hunted down and shot and he was killed because individuals here in this courtroom took the law into their own hands”.

Linda Dunikoski, the lead prosecutor, had argued the two McMichaels should die in prison, and only Bryan should be able to seek parole, pointing to what she called “a demonstrated pattern of vigilantism” by the McMichaels.

Defence lawyers have said they will appeal the convictions. Bob Rubin, a lawyer for the younger McMichael, said life without parole should be reserved only for “the worst of the worst”.

“His goal was not to commit a crime that day or kill somebody that day,” Rubin said of Travis McMichael. “His goal was to have a family afternoon.” None of the 3 convicted men exercised their right to address the court.

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