BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — A judge sentenced three men on Friday who were convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery to life in prison.
Father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael were sentenced to life in prison without parole. William Bryan was sentenced to life in prison with parole.
In November, a jury convicted all three defendants of murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and attempted false imprisonment.
Murder carries a mandatory life sentence under Georgia law. The trial judge ordered both McMichaels to serve life without parole. Bryan was granted a chance of parole, but must first serve at least 30 years in prison.
The Feb. 23, 2020, killing became part of a larger national reckoning on racial injustice when the video was posted online two months later.
During the sentencing hearing, Arbery’s sister recalled her brother’s humor, describing him as a positive thinker with a big personality. She told the judge her brother had dark skin “that glistened in the sunlight,” thick, curly hair and an athletic build, factors that made him a target to the men who pursued him.
“These are the qualities that made these men assume that Ahmaud was a dangerous criminal and chase them with guns drawn. To me, those qualities reflect a young man full of life and energy who looked like me and the people I loved,” Jasmine Arbery said.
Arbery’s mother asked for the maximum sentence, saying she suffered a personal, intense loss made worse by a trial where the men’s defense was that Arbery made bad choices that led to his death.
“This wasn’t a case of mistaken identity or mistaken fact. They chose to target my son because they didn’t want him in their community. They chose to treat him differently than other people who frequently visited their community,” Wanda Cooper-Jones said. “And when they couldn’t sufficiently scare or intimidate him, they killed him.”
Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski asked the judge for life without parole for Travis and Greg McMichael and the possibility of parole for Bryan. But she said all deserved that mandatory life sentence for showing “no empathy for the trapped and terrified Ahmaud Arbery.”
Contending the McMichaels still believed they didn’t do anything wrong, Dunikoski disclosed Friday that Greg McMichael gave Bryan’s cellphone video of the shooting to an attorney, who leaked it.
“He believed it was going to exonerate him,” the prosecutor said.