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Ahmaud Arbery killers get life in prison; only 1 gets parole possibility

Stephen B. Morton-Pool/Getty Images

(BRUNSWICK, Ga.) -- The three men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery have been sentenced.

Travis McMichael, 35, was sentenced to life without the possible of parole. He delivered the deadly shot and was convicted on all nine charges: malice murder, four counts of felony murder, aggravated assault with a shotgun, aggravated assault with a pickup truck, false imprisonment and criminal intent to commit a felony.

The McMichaels' neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, 53, was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole. He was found guilty of three of the felony murder counts as well as charges of aggravated assault with his pickup truck, false imprisonment and criminal intent to commit a felony.

"On February 23, 2020, almost two years ago, a resident of Glynn County, a graduate of Brunswick High, a son, a brother, a young man with dreams was gunned down in this community," said Judge Timothy Walmsley before delivering the sentences. "As we understand it, he left us home apparently to go for a run. And he ended up running for his life."

He took a minute-long moment of silence during his remarks to demonstrate "only a fraction of the time" that Arbery was running from the three men who were chasing him for five minutes.

A Georgia jury in November, after deliberating for about 11 hours, convicted the three white men of chasing and fatally shooting Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was out on a Sunday jog in February 2020.

Each faced a maximum sentence of life in prison.

In the courtroom, Arbery's father Marcus Arbery reflected on the loss of his son.

"The man who killed my son has been sitting in this courtroom, every single day, next to his father," said Marcus. "I'll never get that chance, to sit next to my son ever again, not at the table, not at a holiday."

Arbery's sister, Jasmine, remembered Arbery as a "big personality."

"Ahmaud had dark skin that glistens in the son," she said. "He had curly hair and would often like to twist it. Ahmaud had a broad nose and the color of his eyes was real, with melanin. He was tall with an athletic build and enjoyed running. Ahmaud had an appreciation for being outdoors."

She added: "These are the qualities that made these men assume that Amaud was a dangerous criminal and chase him with guns. To me, those qualities reflect a young man full of life and energy who look like me and the people I love."

His mother Wanda Cooper-Jones began her statement to court with a message to her son, Arbery.

"This verdict doesn't bring you back," she said. "But it does help bring closure to this very difficult chapter of my life. I made a promise to you, I'll lay you to rest. I told you I love you and someday, somehow I would get you justice. Son, I love you as much today as I did the day that you were born. Raising you was the honor of my life and I'm very proud of you."

All three men had pleaded not guilty to the nine-count state indictment.

The three men also have been indicted on federal hate crime charges, and all have pleaded not guilty. Jury selection for that trial is set to begin Feb. 7.

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Arbery's family, spoke in a press conference before the sentencing, calling the guilty verdict "an awakening in America."

"What we pray for is that this is a new, precedent in America that harkens back to the words written in 1776 when we say we hold these truths, that all men are created equally," Crump said. "We pray that we see that same spirit in a sentence of these killers, this lynch mob. We want to make sure that they don't get a slap on the wrist."

 

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