Ahmaud Arbery Murderers Gregory and Travis McMichael sentenced to life without parole in Georgia
Three white men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia in February 2020 have been sentenced to life in prison — and two of them will never be eligible for parole.
Gregory McMichael and his son Travis were sentenced to life in prison Friday without the possibility of parole, plus 20 years, on the February 23, 2020, murder of a 25-year-old Black man. Their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, received a life sentence with the possibility of parole after Judge Timothy Walmsley concluded he was the only one to show remorse over Arbery’s death.
All three have been found guilty in November of the crime including felony murder in a case that drew national outrage weeks before the killing of police officer George Floyd sparked a wave of racist police protests across the country.
Before announcing his sentence, Walmsley sat in silence for a minute to nod indicating “a fraction of the time Ahmaud Arbery was running in the Satilla Shores,” the neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia, where he was killed. While there was no loud bang as the trio’s sentences were being read, reporters inside the courtroom said Arbery’s parents were crying. Greg McMichael leaned back visibly shaken in his chair after his son was sentenced.
“I keep coming back with the horror that must have been in the young man running past the Satilla Shores,” Walmsley said, noting that Arbery was chased for about five minutes.
Ahead of the sentencing, Arbery’s family members spoke in court to debate the maximum sentence for a criminal case that almost never started. It took 73 days, a damning video went viral and allegations of misconduct by the prosecution before the arrest were made.
“Not only did they kill my son in broad daylight, they killed him doing what he loves more than anything – which is running,” Marcus Arbery told the court. “I pray that no one in this courtroom has to do what we did and bury their child. There are no words for that because no word knows how painful it is.”
Wanda Cooper Jones, Arbery’s mother, couldn’t hold back her tears when she said the trio “each has no regrets and doesn’t deserve any leniency”.
“This is not a case of mistaken identity. They chose to target my son because they didn’t want him in their community,” she added. “They were fully committed to the crimes, let them also fully commit to the consequences.”
Leigh McMichael, Greg’s wife and Travis’ mother, was not available Friday. According to reporters in the courtroom, a defense investigator said she was “unable to handle” the sentencing hearing.
During the nearly three-week trial, prosecutors argued that Arbery was jogging past the Satilla Shores when McMichaels and Bryan chased him down the street after baselessly suspecting him of theft. Travis McMichael, the only defendant charged with any crime against him, was arrested in a video showing Bryan firing fatal shots.
“These are men who should have known better. Vigilance always goes wrong. You wait for the experts to show up,” Senior Assistant District Attorney Linda Dunikoski said Friday.
Dunikoski has asked for a life sentence in prison without the possibility of pardon for the McMichaels – but noted that prosecutors are asking for the possibility of a pardon for Bryan.
The defense argued that the incident was the result of a citizen’s attempt to arrest Arbery in connection with suspected break-ins in the area. Travis McMichael, the only of the three defendants to testify on his behalf and admits Arbery never explicitly threatened him, nevertheless asserted to the jury that he fired his weapon because of him. We believe it is a “life and death situation”.
“Whether these actions are thoughtless or reckless, they are not proof of a soul so afflicted that it deserves to live without pardon. This is a fight over a gun that resulted in Mr. Arbery’s death,” Bob Rubin, the attorney for Travis, said Friday.
The conviction against the notable trio comes after a 12-person jury failed to hear any evidence from prosecutors about the charges. Travis McMichael called Arbery a “fuck—–,“As Arbery lay on the ground with multiple gunshot wounds. Nor had they heard of a Confederate decal on the truck used by the men in the chase.
While the relatively obscure role of race may be a strategy in the face of an almost all-white jury, those issues are likely to be at the heart of a criminal trial. Separate federal hatreds against three men begin next month.
Lee Merritt, attorney for Wanda Cooper Jones, told reporters on Friday morning that the Justice Department approached the family with a federal plea agreement for the McMichaels — but they approved the offer. According to Merritt, the agreement would sentence the father and son to 30 years each if they admit the 2020 incident was motivated by hatred.
“[Arbery’s mom] declined that offer because we believe today the state will move forward with life sentences without the possibility of parole, and we think that is the appropriate sentence,” said Merritt. added to CNN prior to sentencing.
In perhaps the most pivotal point in the trial, Travis McMichael testified to tell his “side” about the circumstances that led to Arbery’s death. Over the two-day stand, he talked about how he felt qualified to help solve the crime problem in his neighborhood because of his training in law enforcement in the Force. Coast Guard. Part of the training, he said, includes learning de-escalation strategies that, he says, include pointing a gun at someone.
“It was the most traumatic event of my life. I’m scared to death, ”McMichael speak. “This is the most traumatic event I have had to go through in my life.”
A Glynn County police officer testified during the trial that Gregory McMichael admitted he yelled, “Stop, or I’ll blow your damn head off” at Arbery during the chaotic chase. Travis McMichael testified that he got out of his car to confront Arbery, who he claims grabbed his gun during a struggle.
“He had my gun. Obviously he was attacking me and if he got the shotgun from me it would be a life-or-death situation,” McMichael testified.
Dr. Edmund R. Donoghue, a forensic pathologist at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, testified that Arbery had suffered multiple gunshots at very close range – including wounds to the chest, wrist and armpit. Donoghue determined that the injuries – captured on now-famous Bryan footage of the incident – were fatal and that there was nothing emergency responders could do to save Arbery’s life.
On Friday, civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents Arbery’s father, praised the sentencing and said the punishment was a sign of progress in America.
“But we’re not done yet,” he added in a statement. “We must continue to demand better from law enforcement, from our justice system, and from our society as a whole.”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/ahmaud-arbery-murderers-sentenced-to-life-without-parole-in-georgia?source=articles&via=rss Ahmaud Arbery Murderers Gregory and Travis McMichael sentenced to life without parole in Georgia