Three White men sentenced to life in prison for chasing and murdering 25-year-old Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in South Georgia were sentenced on Friday, with two having no chance of parole.
A Glynn County jury convicted all three men in November of murder and other charges in the pursuit and fatal shooting of Arbery on Feb. 23, 2020, resulting in mandatory life sentences.
On Feb. 23, 2020, Greg and Travis McMichael grabbed guns and jumped in a pickup truck to pursue Arbery after spotting him running in their neighborhood outside the port city of Brunswick. William “Roddie” Bryan, a neighbor, joined the chase in his own truck and captured cellphone video of Travis McMichael firing close-range shotgun blasts into Arbery.
“Ahmaud Arbery was then hunted down and shot, and he was killed because individuals here in this courtroom took the law into their own hands,” the judge said.
According to Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley, Arbery went for a jog and ended up running for his life for five minutes as the men chased him until they cornered him. The judge observed a minute of silence to help convey what that time must have been like for Arbery, whose death became part of a larger national reckoning with racial injustice.
“When I thought about this, I thought from a lot of different angles. I kept coming back to the terror that must have been in the mind of the young man running through Satilla Shores,” he said, mentioning the neighborhood where Arbery was killed.
Travis McMichael, who fatally shot Arbery, and his father, Gregory McMichael, are both serving life sentences without the possibility of parole. Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley, however, stated that their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan will be eligible. Bryan is not eligible for parole until he has served at least 30 years in prison.
Walmsley observed a minute of silence before delivering the sentence, stating that it “represents a fraction of the time Ahmaud Arbery was running” through the neighborhood outside Brunswick before he was killed on February 23, 2020.
The sentences are consistent with the recommendation of prosecutor Linda Dunikoski, who recommended that Bryan, 52, be granted parole while the McMichaels be denied. According to Dunikoski, the father and son showed no remorse or empathy for “trapped and terrified Ahmaud Arbery.”
According to Dunikoski, the men based on their background in law enforcement in one or another should have known better. “There were so many opportunities to stop, to think,” she said. “And here’s the real problem: Greg McMichael was former law enforcement” and Travis McMichael had served in the Coast Guard.
According to a pool reporter present, Arbery’s mother and father sobbed as the sentences were read aloud. After his son was sentenced, Gregory McMichael leaned back in his chair and appeared visibly shaken, according to the reporter.
AP News reported that a few dozen supporters applauded Arbery’s family as they walked down the courthouse steps on Friday afternoon.
“Today your son has made history, because we have people who are being held accountable for lynching a Black man in America!” said Benjamin Crump, a civil attorney representing the family.