Watch live as Ahmaud Arbery killers sentenced for his murder
Gregory and Travis McMichael, white father and son convicted of murdering Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery, have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus 20 years.
A judge handed down the sentences in Glynn County, Georgia, on Friday afternoon. The McMichaels’ neighbour and co-defendant William “Roddie” Bryan Jr was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after 30 years served,
The sentence came nearly two years after the three men chased Arbery, who was unarmed, through a neighbourhood in their trucks before shooting him in February 2020. The attack was captured in footage filmed by Bryan Jr.
All three men stood trial in November on nine charges: one count of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment and one count of criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
Travis McMichael was convicted of and received the top sentence for malice murder, while Gregory McMichael and Bryan Jr received their top sentences for felony murder.
Chants erupt outside courthouse
Chants of “Justice for Ahmaud” and “Black Lives Matter” erupted outside the Glynn County Courthouse as the sentences were handed down on Friday afternoon.
Megan Sheets7 January 2022 20:33
Judge explains sentences
Explaining his reasoning for the sentences, Judge Walmsley said he was guided by the defendants’ own words.
He noted how Gregory McMichael threatened to “blow [Arbery’s] head off”, described him as being “trapped like a rat” and said after his son fired the fatal shots: “If I could’ve gotten a shot at the guy, I would have.”
The judge noted that Travis McMichael described the shooting as “the worst day of his life” and “acted like he was in shock” after the shooting, despite having gone out to pursue Arbery.
The words he noted from Bryan Jr were his asking the McMichaels: “Y’all got him?” and telling police of Arbery: “I figured he’d done something wrong, I wasn’t sure.”
Judge Walmsley also quoted the victim impact statement from Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones, where she said: “When they could not scare or intimidate him, they killed him.”
“This was a killing, it was callous, and it occurred because confrontation was being sought,” the judge said.
Megan Sheets7 January 2022 20:22
Travis and Gregory McMichael sentenced to life without parole
Judge Walmsley has sentenced Travis and Gregory McMichael to life without parole, plus 20 years to be served consecutively.
William “Roddie” Bryan Jr received life with the possibility of parole after 30 years.
The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has more:
Megan Sheets7 January 2022 20:06
Judge on bench to deliver sentence
Judge Timothy Walmsley is now on the bench preparing to hand down sentences.
The judge delivered brief remarks before reading out the sentence for each defendant.
He began by noting the significance of the case not only in Georgia but around the country.
He called Arbery’s murder “a tragedy on many, many levels”.
The judge then ushered in a minute of silence to represent the amount of time Arbery was running in the Satilla Shores neighbourhood before he was shot.
Megan Sheets7 January 2022 19:52
Brief break before sentencing
The court is on a brief break to allow the judge time to review notes before handing down sentences.
Prior to the break, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski stepped up to rebut the defence attorney’s arguments for lower sentences.
For Bryan Jr, she argued that the law does not allow for any parole relief because he was convicted of felony murder.
For Gregory McMichael, she refuted the defence’s assertion that he feels remorse by noting that it was he who released video of the killing because she said he believed it would exonerate him.
For Travis McMichael, she noted that he was not released on bail because he was deemed a danger to society and said the she does not believe the possibility of parole will change that.
Megan Sheets7 January 2022 19:33
Defendants’ wife and mother is not at hearing
Leigh McMichael, the wife of Gregory and mother of Travis, is not in attendance at Friday’s sentencing hearing.
Asked why she wasn’t there, a defence investigator said Ms McMichael “couldn’t handle it”, according to a pool reporter.
Megan Sheets7 January 2022 19:15
Bryan Jr’s attorney argues for lower sentence
William “Roddie” Bryan Jr’s lawyer Kevin Gough is now making his case to have his client receive the lowest sentence possible.
Repeating his tune throughout the trial, Mr Gough asserted that Bryan Jr was not a party to the killing and is not a vigilante, he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
He noted that Bryan Jr did not have a gun with him on the day of the pursuit, saying it shows he had no intention to kill.
In a jarring remark, Mr Gough suggested that Arbery may still be alive if Bryan Jr had been successful in striking Arbery with his car during the pursuit that preceded the hearing.
Mr Gough also claimed that he did not receive the state’s notice about its intent to seek a sentence of life without parole.
Megan Sheets7 January 2022 18:55
Gregory McMichael’s attorney calls him a ‘good man’
In arguing against life without parole for Gregory McMichael, attorney Laura Hogue denied the prosecutor’s assertion that her client has not shown remorse, saying he has been unable to express sympathy to Arbery’s family because of the upcoming charges he still faces in federal court.
Ms Hogue claimed he is a “good person” who has done “thousands and thousands of big and little acts of kindness” throughout his life and “served his community” as a police officer in the years before he murdered the Black man.
“Greg McMichael is a good man. He is not a perfect person. None of us are. He has lived a good life, a life of service and that has to count for something,” she said.
Megan Sheets7 January 2022 18:36
Court back in session
The sentencing hearing has resumed after a lunch break.
Gregory McMichael’s lawyer, Laura Hogue, is now making an argument to merge the charges against him.
Watch along live:
Watch live as Ahmaud Arbery killers sentenced for his murder
Megan Sheets7 January 2022 18:08
RECAP: What happened to Arbery?
Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was described by friends and family as an avid athlete and hip-hop fan. On 23 February, 2020 the former linebacker for the Brunswick High School Pirates, who had once dreamed of playing pro football, set off for a jog through the neighbourhood of Satilla Shores, near Brunswick, Georgia.
As he continued on his run, he was spotted by Gregory McMichael, 67, Travis McMichael, his son, 35, and their neighbour William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, who mistakenly believed Mr Arbery was responsible for a number of break-ins in the area, including in a vacant home under construction. The trio, all white men, began pursuing Mr Arbery in their trucks, with the McMichaels armed with a pistol and a shotgun, and Bryan recording a video of the chase on a cellphone.
Eventually, they tried to corner the jogger using the vehicles. Travis McMichael and Ahmaud Arbery got into a physical confrontation, and McMichael shot him three times, killing him.
The Independent’s Josh Marcus has more:
Megan Sheets7 January 2022 17:30
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