Man who fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery sentenced to life in federal hate crimes – National

The white man who fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery after stalking the 25-year-old black man in a Georgia neighborhood was sentenced to life in prison on Monday for a federal hate crime.

Travis McMichael was sentenced by US District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood in the port city of Braunschweig. His punishment is largely symbolic, as McMichael was sentenced to life in prison without parole by a Georgia state court earlier this year for Arbery’s murder.

Wood said McMichael received a fair trial.

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“And it hasn’t escaped the court that it was the kind of trial that Ahmaud Arbery didn’t get before he was shot,” the judge said.

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Before the sentencing, she heard from members of Arbery’s family. His mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said she feels every day being fired at her son.

“It’s so unfair, so unfair, so unfair that he was killed when he didn’t even commit a crime,” she said.

McMichael declined to appeal to the court, but his attorney, Amy Lee Copeland, said her client was unconvicted prior to Arbery’s killing and served in the US Coast Guard. She said a lighter sentence would be more consistent with what similarly charged defendants have received in other cases, noting that the officer who killed George Floyd in Minneapolis, Derek Chauvin, was sentenced to 21 years in prison for violating Floyd’s civil rights was convicted, although he was not charged with targeting Floyd because of his race.

McMichael was one of three defendants convicted of federal hate crimes in February. His father, Greg McMichael, and his neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan had scheduled sentencing hearings for later Monday.

The McMichaels armed themselves with guns and used a pickup truck to chase Arbery after he ran past their home on February 23, 2020. Bryan joined the pursuit in his own truck and captured cellphone video of McMichael shooting Arbery with a shotgun as Arbery dealt punches and reached for the gun.

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The McMichaels told police they suspect Arbery was a burglar. Investigators determined that he was unarmed and had committed no crimes.

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Arbery’s killing became part of a larger national reckoning on racial injustice and killings of unarmed black people, including Floyd and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky. These two cases also led to federal lawsuits being filed by the Justice Department.

“The evidence we presented at trial proved … what so many people felt in their hearts as they watched video of Ahmaud’s tragic and needless death: This would never have happened if he had been white,” prosecutor Christopher Perras said , before Travis McMichael was sentenced .

Greg McMichael and Bryan also face possible life sentences after a jury convicted them of federal hate crimes in February and concluded they violated Arbery’s civil rights and targeted him because of his race. All three men were also found guilty of attempted kidnapping, and the McMichaels face additional penalties for using firearms to commit a violent crime.

A Supreme Court judge in January handed down life sentences to all three men for Arbery’s murder, with both McMichaels denied any chance of parole.

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All three defendants remain in the Coastal District of Glynn County, in the custody of US Marshals, while awaiting sentencing following their federal conviction in January.

Because they were first tried and convicted of murder by a state court, protocol should have turned them over to the Georgia Department of Corrections to serve their life sentences in a state prison.

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In a court filing last week, both Travis and Greg McMichael asked the judge to reroute them to a federal prison instead, saying they are in a Georgia prison system that is the subject of a U.S. Department of Justice investigation focused on inter-inmate violence , not sure .

Copeland said during Travis McMichael’s hearing on Monday that her client had received hundreds of threats that he would be killed once he got to state prison and that his photo had been circulated on illegal phones there.

“I am concerned, Your Honor, that my client is actually facing a backdoor death penalty,” she said, adding that “retaliation and revenge” are not sentencing factors, even for a defendant who is “publicly vilified.”

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Arbery’s family insisted that Travis McMichael serve his sentence in state prison. His father, Marcus Arbery Sr., said Travis McMichael showed his son no mercy and deserved to “rot” in state prison.

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“You killed him because he was black and you hate black people,” he said. “You don’t deserve mercy.”

Wood said she has no authority to order the state to relinquish custody of Travis McMichael to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, but has no inclination to do so in his case either.

During the February hate crime trial, prosecutors bolstered their case that Arbery’s murder was racially motivated by showing the jury about two dozen text messages and social media posts in which Travis McMichael and Bryan used racial slurs and made derogatory comments about black people .

The three men’s defense attorneys argued that the McMichaels and Bryan were not pursuing Arbery because of his race but were acting on a serious, if erroneous, suspicion that Arbery had committed crimes in their neighborhood.

© 2022 The Canadian Press Man who fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery sentenced to life in federal hate crimes – National


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