Ahmaud Arbery’s killers were sentenced to life in prison; no pardon for father and son

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — The three white men who chased and killed Ahmaud Arbery on Friday were sentenced to life in prison, with a judge denying any chance of pardon for the father and son who armed themselves and began the deadly hunt for 25 people. – old black man.

Murder carries a mandatory life sentence under Georgia law unless prosecutors seek the death penalty, which they chose against Arbery’s murder. For Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley, the key decision was whether to grant Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, one last chance at parole.

The judge ordered both McMichaels to serve life sentences without parole. Bryan has the opportunity to be pardoned, but must first serve at least 30 years in prison.

Arbery’s family asked a judge for no leniency on Friday in convicting the three men.

During the sentencing hearing, Arbery’s sister recalled her brother’s humour, describing him as a positive thinker with a big personality. She told the judge her brother had dark skin that “glitters in the sun”, thick, curly hair and a muscular build, factors that made him a target for men pursuing him.

“These are the qualities that led these men to perceive Ahmaud as a dangerous criminal and pursue them with drawn pistols. To me, those qualities reflect a young man full of life and energy just like me and the people I love,” said Jasmine Arbery.

Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley, left, listens to prosecutor Linda Dunikoski’s opening statement during the sentencing of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, in Court Glynn County Courthouse, Friday, January 7, 2022, in Brunswick, Ga. Three were found guilty in the February 2020 murder of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Arbery’s mother is demanding the maximum sentence, saying she has suffered a personal loss, intense and made worse by a trial in which the defense alleges Arbery made the wrong choices that led to his death.

“This is not a case of confusion of identity or confusion of facts. They chose to target my son because they didn’t want him in their community. They chose to treat him differently from other people who regularly visit their community,” said Wanda Cooper-Jones. “And when they couldn’t scare or intimidate him enough, they killed him.”

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski asked the judge for a life sentence without parole for Travis and Greg McMichael and the possibility of a pardon for Bryan. But she said they all deserved that mandatory life sentence for showing “no empathy for the trapped and terrified Ahmaud Arbery.”

In arguing that the McMichaels still believe they did nothing wrong, Dunikoski revealed Friday that Greg McMichael gave video of the shooting on Bryan’s cell phone to a lawyer, who leaked it.

“He believes it will vindicate him,” the prosecutor said.

For 35-year-old Travis McMichael, the possibility of parole could mean the hope of being released from prison in his 60s, said Robert Rubin, one of his attorneys. He argued that Travis McMichael opened fire only after “Mr. Arbery lunged at him and snatched the gun.” But Rubin also admitted his client’s decision to arm himself and go after Arbery was “reckless” and “thoughtless.”

“They are not proof of a soul so blackened that it deserves to be in prison for the rest of its life,” Rubin said. “This is not a planned murder. This is a fight for a gun that resulted in Mr. Arbery’s death. “

Greg McMichael recently turned 66 and Bryan is 52, raising the possibility that they will spend the rest of their lives in prison even with a chance to be pardoned.

Greg McMichael’s attorney, Laura Hogue, said her client had health problems and acknowledged that he would likely never get out of prison. But he said that giving him a chance to be pardoned would show he had no intention of killing Arbery, never drawing his gun until his son fired a shotgun.

“Greg McMichael didn’t leave his home that day hoping to kill someone,” Hogue told the judge. “He didn’t watch his son shoot that shotgun with anything other than fear and sadness. What the jury found was an inadvertent act.”

Bryan’s attorney said he should be given a chance to be pardoned because he showed remorse and cooperated with police, recording video of the shooting on his mobile phone to help them tell the truth.

“Mr. Bryan was not a gunman,” Kevin Gough said. “He was unarmed. And I think that reflects his intentions.”

The guilty verdicts against the men delivered the day before Thanksgiving prompted a victory celebration outside Glynn County court for those who viewed Arbery’s death as part of a nation. larger than the calculation of racial injustice.

All three men were also found guilty of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and attempted execution of a false prison sentence. The maximum prison term for these crimes is between five and 20 years. The judge will likely allow those additional penalties to be served concurrently with the life sentence for the murder.

McMichaels grabbed a gun and jumped into a pickup truck to chase 25-year-old Arbery after spotting him running in their neighborhood outside the Georgia port city of Brunswick on February 23, 2020. Bryan joined chase with his own truck and record cell phone video Travis McMichael fires a close-range shotgun that explodes at Arbery as he throws punches and grabs a weapon.

The murder went largely unnoticed until two months later, when the graphic video leaked online and sparked a nationwide outcry. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case from local police and quickly arrested all three men.

Defense attorneys said they plan to appeal the charges. They have 30 days after sentencing to file.

Next month, McMichaels and Bryan face a second trial, this time in the US District Court on federal hate crime charges. A judge has established Jury’s Choice starting February 7. Prosecutors will argue that the three men violated Arbery’s civil rights and targeted him because he was Black.

https://www.westernslopenow.com/news/ahmaud-arberys-killers-get-life-in-prison-no-parole-for-father-son/ Ahmaud Arbery’s killers were sentenced to life in prison; no pardon for father and son

Emma Bowman

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