Ahmaud Arbery hate crime case: Father, son sentenced to life; neighbor gets 35 years

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(ATLANTA) — The father and son convicted of federal hate crimes in the death of Ahmaud Arbery were sentenced Monday to life in prison.

Gregory McMichael, 66, chased 25-year-old Arbery on Feb. 23, 2020, with his son, Travis McMichael, 36, who fired the fatal shot.

The McMichaels’ neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, who joined the chase and recorded video and was also convicted of federal hate crimes, was sentenced Monday to 35 years.

“I would like to say to Mr. Ahmaud Arbery’s family and friends how sorry I am for what happened to him on that day,” Bryan said in court, according to WSB radio. “I never intended any harm to him, and never would’ve played any role if I knew then what I know now.”

Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery, told reporters after the sentencing, “When you get caught up and it’s looking bad for you, that’s when you’re trying to apologize? That’s a long time.”

“He should’ve did it day one,” he said. “‘Cause Ahmaud was lying on the ground dying and he didn’t do nothing to help him.”

Gregory McMichael said in court to the Arbery family, “I’m sure my words mean very little to you but I want to assure you I never wanted any of this to happen.”

“There was no malice in my heart or my son’s heart that day,” he said.

Travis McMichael did not make a statement.

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, told reporters outside the Brunswick, Georgia, courthouse, “I feel every shot every day that I wake up.”

All three men are already serving life in prison for Arbery’s killing after being found guilty of murder in a Georgia state court last fall. The McMichaels were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole while Bryan was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.

The three white men were convicted in the federal case in February by a jury who decided that they followed and killed Arbery because he was Black.

After deliberating for less than four hours, the federal jury convicted all three men of being motivated by racial hate in interference of Arbery’s civil rights and attempted kidnapping. Travis McMichael and his father were also convicted of carrying and brandishing a weapon during the commission of a crime of violence. Travis McMichael was also found guilty of discharging a firearm in relation to a crime of violence.

The McMichaels chased Arbery in their pickup truck after they saw him jogging in their neighborhood, falsely believing he had been responsible for several break-ins in coastal Georgia’s Satilla Shores neighborhood. Bryan joined the chase in his own truck, blocking Arbery from escaping, and recorded cellphone footage of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery with a shotgun after a brief struggle.

During the trial, prosecutors released text messages and social media posts in which Travis McMichael and Bryan repeatedly used racist slurs. Witnesses also testified to hearing both McMichaels make racist comments.

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