The Father And Son Who Killed Ahmaud Arbery Were Sentenced To Life In Prison For Federal Hate Crimes

Travis McMichael, his father, Greg McMichael, and his neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan are already serving life sentences, having been convicted of felony murder in a Georgia state court.

Travis and Greg McMichael — two of the white men who killed Ahmaud Arbery after chasing him through a Georgia neighborhood along with their neighbor — were sentenced Monday to life in prison for federal hate crimes.

Their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan was also sentenced to 35 years in prison for his role in the murder of the 25-year-old Black man.

All three are already serving life sentences, having been convicted of felony murder in a Georgia state court in November 2021. Bryan will be eligible for parole, but only after 30 years; the McMichaels were sentenced without the possibility of parole.

In February 2020, while Arbery was out for a jog in Brunswick, Georgia, the three men pursued him in a pickup truck and killed him in broad daylight. Video of the violent attack was made public more than two months later, and the three men were arrested soon after.

US District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood said Travis McMichael — who fatally shot Arbery — had been given a "fair trial," according to the Associated Press.

"And it’s not lost on the court that it was the kind of trial that Ahmaud Arbery did not receive before he was shot and killed,” Wood said.

At the federal sentencing hearing, Arbery's family members, including his parents, spoke about the gravity of his death.

"Your honor, I feel every shot that was fired every day. Every morning, I wake up and tell myself it's another day without my 'Quez," said his mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, referring to her son by his nickname, according to Law & Crime.

"These three devils have broken my heart into pieces that can't be found or repaired," his father, Marcus Arbery, told the courtroom.

Travis and Greg McMichael will be required to serve their state sentences first, despite requesting to serve their time in a federal prison instead, saying they feared for their safety in Georgia. Their attorney, Amy Lee Copeland, argued at Travis's hearing that he could face a "backdoor death penalty" in a state facility due to death threats against him.

At Monday's sentencing, Wood said Travis McMichael had "acted because of the color of Mr. Arbery's skin."

Marcus Arbery said Travis McMichael deserved to "rot" in Georgia state prison.

“You killed him because he was a Black man and you hate Black people,” he said. “You deserve no mercy.”

Greg McMichael spoke at his hearing, addressing Arbery's family directly.

"I understand that the loss that you've endured is beyond description," he said. "I'm sure that my words mean very little to you, but I want to assure you that I didn't want any of this to happen."

Disturbing details of the men's violent racism came to light during the federal trial. All three had a long history of denigrating Black people, using slurs including the n-word in text messages and social media posts — especially Travis McMichael, who had repeatedly advocated for violence against Black people. After shooting Arbery, Travis McMichael yelled the n-word at him as he lay bleeding on the ground, according to testimony during the trial.

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