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Ahmaud Arbery news: Mother ‘very thankful’ as Travis and Gregory McMichael get life without parole

Court sentences Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William ‘Roddie’ Bryan Jr to life

Megan Sheets ,Graeme Massie,Adam Withnall,Gino Spocchia
Saturday 08 January 2022 19:06 GMT
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.


Brief break before sentencing

The court is on a brief break to allow the judge time to review notes before handing down sentences.

Prior to the break, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski stepped up to rebut the defence attorney’s arguments for lower sentences.

For Bryan Jr, she argued that the law does not allow for any parole relief because he was convicted of felony murder.

For Gregory McMichael, she refuted the defence’s assertion that he feels remorse by noting that it was he who released video of the killing because she said he believed it would exonerate him.

For Travis McMichael, she noted that he was not released on bail because he was deemed a danger to society and said the she does not believe the possibility of parole will change that.

Megan Sheets7 January 2022 19:33

Judge on bench to deliver sentence

Judge Timothy Walmsley is now on the bench preparing to hand down sentences.

The judge delivered brief remarks before reading out the sentence for each defendant.

He began by noting the significance of the case not only in Georgia but around the country.

He called Arbery’s murder “a tragedy on many, many levels”.

The judge then ushered in a minute of silence to represent the amount of time Arbery was running in the Satilla Shores neighbourhood before he was shot.

Megan Sheets7 January 2022 19:52

Travis and Gregory McMichael sentenced to life without parole

Judge Walmsley has sentenced Travis and Gregory McMichael to life without parole, plus 20 years to be served consecutively.

William “Roddie” Bryan Jr received life with the possibility of parole after 30 years.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has more:

Father and son sentenced to life without parole for murder of Ahmaud Arbery

Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr are sentenced to life in prison for the February 2020 murder of Ahmaud Arbery

Megan Sheets7 January 2022 20:06

Judge explains sentences

Explaining his reasoning for the sentences, Judge Walmsley said he was guided by the defendants’ own words.

He noted how Gregory McMichael threatened to “blow [Arbery’s] head off”, described him as being “trapped like a rat” and said after his son fired the fatal shots: “If I could’ve gotten a shot at the guy, I would have.”

The judge noted that Travis McMichael described the shooting as “the worst day of his life” and “acted like he was in shock” after the shooting, despite having gone out to pursue Arbery.

The words he noted from Bryan Jr were his asking the McMichaels: “Y’all got him?” and telling police of Arbery: “I figured he’d done something wrong, I wasn’t sure.”

Judge Walmsley also quoted the victim impact statement from Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones, where she said: “When they could not scare or intimidate him, they killed him.”

“This was a killing, it was callous, and it occurred because confrontation was being sought,” the judge said.

Megan Sheets7 January 2022 20:22

Chants erupt outside courthouse

Chants of “Justice for Ahmaud” and “Black Lives Matter” erupted outside the Glynn County Courthouse as the sentences were handed down on Friday afternoon.

The scene was captured in video from CBS46 reporter Hayley Mason:

Megan Sheets7 January 2022 20:33

WATCH: Judge reads sentences

Watch the moment Judge Walmsley handed down each sentence below:

Judge sentences Gregory and Travis McMichael to life for murder of Ahmaud Arbery
Megan Sheets7 January 2022 20:45

Family hold press conference

Ahmaud Arbery’s family is now addressing the media outside the Glynn County Courthouse.

The press conference began with civil rights attorney Ben Crump lauding the accountability for Arbery’s lynching.

A livestream is available here via 11Alive.

Megan Sheets7 January 2022 21:14

Arbery’s mother reacts to sentencing

The family of Ahmaud Arbery, whose killers were sentenced to life in prison without parole, thanked the outpouring of community support and commitment of civil rights advocates who have sought justice for his murder.

“I sat in that courtroom for five weeks straight,” his mother Wanda Cooper-Jones told reporters outside Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia on 7 January.

“But I knew we could come out with a victory,” she said. “I never doubted it. I knew today would come.”

She said the city of Brunswick “thought I would have to fight this fight alone, so they chose to ignore me.”

“They didn’t know I had you guys standing with me,” she added. “Thank you for standing with my family.”

The Independent’s Alex Woodward has more:

‘Your son made history’: Ahmaud Arbery’s family and attorneys praise life sentence

Three white men sentenced to life in prison without parole after 2020 killing of Black man in Georgia

Megan Sheets7 January 2022 21:41

ANALYSIS: What comes next?

Almost two years after Ahmaud Arbery was chased through a neighbourhood by three men in pickup trucks and shot dead in the street, his killers were told today they would spend the rest of their lives behind bars.

Travis McMichael, 35, and his father Gregory McMichael, 66, were both sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Their neighbour William “Roddie” Bryan Jr was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

However, the sentencing of the three murderers does not mark the end of the case.

All three men are expected to file appeals against their convictions. Meanwhile, they are also due to stand trial on federal hate crime charges in February.

The first district attorney to handle the case is also facing criminal charges over her handling of the initial investigation.

Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones is also pursuing a civil lawsuit against police and prosecutors over their handling of the case.

Beyond this, many also feel the case could have far-reaching implications on so-called vigilante justice across America.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp explains what to expect over the coming months:

The murder of Ahmaud Arbery: What’s next after the 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, writes Rachel Sharp

Megan Sheets7 January 2022 22:24

Prosecution asks to bar defendants from profiting off killing

After the sentences were handed down, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski asked the judge to bar the defendants from making any money off of their convictions or trial - including from book or movie deals.

She said such a ruling would ensure the men “do not reap any sort of benefit from their actions”.

Ms Dunikoski added that should the defendants make any money off of this ordeal, the profits would be directed to the Arbery family.

Bryan Jr’s attorney responded by saying: “When the court does that, my only concern is how that would impact Mr Bryan’s ability to raise money for his defense, for his appeal. I wouldn’t want to be in a situation where he couldn’t do that inadvertently because of a sentencing condition.”

Megan Sheets7 January 2022 23:00

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