Ahmaud Arbery murder: Travis and Greg McMichael are sentenced to life in prison : NPR


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  sandy-2021492  •  3 weeks ago  •  32 comments

By:   NPR. org

Ahmaud Arbery murder: Travis and Greg McMichael are sentenced to life in prison : NPR
A judge announced the sentences in a Glynn County, Ga., courtroom Friday, about six weeks after a jury found the men guilty in a case widely seen as racially motivated.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

Updated January 7, 20223:10 PM ET Originally published January 7, 202210:39 AM ET

Bill Chappell

Joe Hernandez

Travis and Greg McMichael, who were convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. William "Roddie" Bryan, who was also convicted in the case, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole — meaning he must serve at least 30 years before he's eligible for release.

Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley announced the sentences Friday, about six weeks after a jury found the men guilty of the high-profile killing that is widely seen as racially motivated. In early 2020, the men chased down and killed Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was jogging through their neighborhood near Brunswick, along Georgia's coast.

Arbery's murder was "a tragedy on many, many levels," Walmsley said, adding that "a young man with dreams was gunned down in this community."

The judge sentenced Travis McMichael to life plus 20 years and Greg McMichael to life plus 20 years, with the additional punishment stemming from assault and false imprisonment charges. He sentenced Bryan to life plus 10 years — which would be suspended.

In an extraordinary moment in court, the judge interrupted his remarks to sit silently for one full minute — representing a fraction of the time, he said, that Arbery spent running for his life as the other men chased him for roughly five minutes. In considering the case, Walmsley said, he kept returning to "the terror" that must have been in Arbery's mind.

The judge's decision largely mirrors prosecutors' requests. His ruling came after Arbery's family delivered passionate requests for the three men to face the maximum penalty.

Attorneys for Travis McMichael, 35, his father Greg McMichael, 66, and their neighbor Bryan, 52, had asked for leniency during Friday's hearing. They have also previously said they will appeal their clients' guilty verdict.

Just before Walmsley delivered the sentence, he repeated the defendants' own words — what he called the "narrative" that Greg McMichael sought to establish about Arbery, including his repeated use of profanities to discuss the young man, even as he said he had no proof that Arbery had done anything wrong.

Arbery "was hunted down and shot," Walmsley said. And then the men who did it turned their backs and walked away, he added.

After the sentence was announced, the prosecution asked the court to impose a condition on the guilty parties, to bar them from using their experience to make money. The judge said he will review that request. Court was then adjourned.

Defense lawyers urged leniency, after Arbery's family asked for the maximum

Ahmaud Arbery's father, Marcus Arbery, told the court that the defendants had lynched his son in broad daylight, saying he wishes he could have saved Ahmaud from "their evil and hate."

The McMichaels and Bryan should think about what they did every day for the rest of their lives, Marcus Arbery said, adding, "and they should do it from behind bars, because me and my family, we've got to live with his death for the rest of our life."

Travis McMichael's attorney, Robert Rubin, said later that his client had acted without thinking, arguing that his actions against Arbery were not proof of "an abandoned and malignant heart."

And while prosecutors had pointed to a lack of remorse as additional reason for a stiff penalty, Rubin said McMichael could not express remorse while also facing the threat of a separate federal trial later this year.

Rubin argued that McMichael should be given the opportunity to change and seek redemption, rather than spending the rest of his life in prison.

Greg McMichael's defense attorney Laura Hogue said her client shouldn't face the maximum sentence, citing a lack of prior criminal history. She also argued that the prosecution hadn't proven aggravating circumstances that would warrant the stiffest sentence.

Hogue also cited the jury's verdict, which she said had found her client's role in Arbery's death stemmed from an "unintentional act." She noted that despite carrying a handgun that day, he never fired a shot at Arbery. His actions weren't motivated by hate, but by the urge to "get to the bottom" of Arbery's previous visits to a construction site in the Satilla Shores neighborhood.

Bryan's attorney, Kevin Gough, began his argument by saying he agrees with much of what the prosecution has said about the case, including mention of Bryan's cooperation with the investigation and the recommendation of a lesser sentence.

Like the McMichaels, Gough said, Bryan has no prior felony convictions. But he said his client's circumstances are very different from those of his fellow defendants. And he added that Bryan didn't know the McMichaels were armed.

"Roddie Bryan really had no idea of what was going on — or why — until after the tragic death of Mr. Arbery," Gough said.

Both of the McMichaels showed a "demonstrated pattern of vigilantism," Dunikowski said as she argued for them to be sent to prison for life without parole. Citing their experience with law enforcement, she added that the men "should have known better" than to arm themselves and pursue Arbery.

The sentencing hearing at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga., began Friday morning and extended into the afternoon.

As the three men entered the courtroom, a pool report from inside the courtroom described the scene: "Greg McMichael looks noticeably nervous, he hugs and greets his attorneys but when seated has a trembling hand over his mouth."

Arbery's family delivered emotional victim impact statements

After Marcus Arbery spoke, Ahmaud's sister, Jasmine, smiled in court as she described her brother as a tall, athletic young man with a positive outlook and a sense of humor, who loved to run. But while he looked like her and other people she loves, she added, the defendants saw him as a threat.

"Ahmaud had a future that was taken from him in an instance of violence," Jasmine Arbery said as she wept. "He was robbed of his life pleasures, big and small. He will never be able to fulfill his professional dreams, nor will he be able to start a family, or even be a part of my daughter's life."

"The loss of Ahmaud has devastated me and my family," she said, "so I'm asking that the man that killed him be given the maximum sentence available to the court."

Ahmaud Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, began her impact statement by speaking directly to her son.

"This verdict doesn't bring you back, but it does help bring closure to this very difficult chapter of my life," she said. "I made a promise to you the day I laid you to rest. I told you I love you — and someday, somehow, I would get you justice. Son, I love you as much today as I did the day that you were born. Raising you was the honor of my life, and I'm very proud of you."

Cooper-Jones told Walmsley that the defendants had lied about her son and her family and that because they showed no remorse, they don't deserve leniency.

"This wasn't a case of mistaken identity or mistaken fact," she said. "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. And when they couldn't sufficiently scare him or intimidate him, they killed him."

During the trial, defense attorneys highlighted the condition of Arbery's feet and toenails. On Friday, his mother responded to those statements.

"He was messy, he sometimes refused to wear socks or take good care of his good clothing," Cooper-Jones said. "I wish he would have cut and cleaned his toenails before he went out for that jog that day. I guess he would have if he knew he would be murdered."

Noting that her son never spoke to or threatened the McMichaels or Bryan, Cooper-Jones added, "They were fully committed to their crimes — let them be fully committed for the consequences."

The men used pickup trucks to chase Arbery through their neighborhood

In February 2020, Travis and Greg McMichael pursued Arbery, who was Black, as he was out for a run through a residential neighborhood. They said they suspected he was responsible for a string of recent break-ins. Bryan joined in the chase, which the prosecutor said lasted five minutes. All three killers are white.

Bryan captured some of the confrontation on video, including the moment that Travis McMichael shot and killed Arbery during a struggle. Footage of the killing became a key piece of evidence at trial.

All three defendants had pleaded not guilty.

Travis McMichael was found guilty of all nine counts against him, including one count of malice murder and four counts of felony murder. Greg McMichael was found not guilty of malice murder but was convicted on the other eight counts, including four counts of felony murder. Bryan was found guilty of six charges, including three felony murder counts.

They all faced a sentence of either life in prison or life in prison without the possibility of parole; prosecutors did not seek the death penalty in this case. Prosecutors previously said they would seek life in prison without parole for all three defendants.

The men also face a separate federal hate crimes trial later this year.

Attorney Ben Crump addresses reporters outside Glynn Co, GA courthouse ahead of today's sentencing of the three men convicted of murdering #AhmaudArberypic.twitter.com/DjKMgroj2Q — Sarah McCammon (@sarahmccammon) January 7, 2022

Who are the judge, prosecutors and defense?

Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley presided over the trial at the Glynn County Courthouse. The Eastern Judicial Circuit judge was given the case after all five judges in the Brunswick Judicial Circuit recused themselves. Walmsley was appointed to the bench in February 2012.

Lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski is the senior assistant district attorney in Cobb County, outside of Atlanta. She was put in charge of the case in April, after two local prosecutors recused themselves.

Defense attorney Kevin Gough of Brunswick has represented Bryan since his arrest. Attorney Jessica Burton of Atlanta is also on Bryan's defense team.

Defense attorneys Robert Rubin and Jason Sheffield represent Travis McMichael. They're from the same Atlanta-area law firm.

Defense attorneys Laura and Franklin Hogue, who are married, represent Greg McMichael. They're based in Macon, Ga., where they've handled numerous death-penalty cases.

The case was a flashpoint in the reckoning over racial justice

Although the murder occurred in February 2020, neither the McMichaels nor Bryan were immediately arrested. Only after the video footage recorded by Bryan was leaked online did authorities make any arrests until May, some 10 weeks after Arbery's death. There was a string of recusals from prosecutors with ties to Greg McMichael — a former police officer.

The video shows the McMichaels chasing Arbery through the Satilla Shores neighborhood. Travis McMichael was armed with a shotgun.

Defense attorneys said at trial that the McMichaels were trying to make a citizen's arrest of Arbery, who they suspected had burglarized several nearby homes. Surveillance video shows Arbery entering a home under construction several times, but no evidence was presented at the trial that he stole anything or that he had any involvement in any of the neighborhood break-ins or thefts.

The video shows Travis McMichael, who is standing outside of his white pickup truck, confront Arbery. The two get into a brief scuffle, and that's when McMichael shoots and kills Arbery, who was unarmed. At trial, McMichael testified that he fired in self-defense.

"They shot and killed him," lead prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said during closing arguments, "not because he was a threat to them, but because he wouldn't stop and talk to them."

Family members have called Arbery's murder a "modern-day lynching," and others have bemoaned that fact that it took the public release of Bryan's video for authorities to file charges.


For many, guilty verdicts in Arbery case mark progress for racial justice in court

"This case, by all accounts, should have been opened and closed ... the violent stalking and lynching of Ahmaud Arbery was documented for video for the world to witness," Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney, said in a statement after the verdict.

"But yet, because of the deep cracks, flaws, and biases in our systems, we were left to wonder if we would ever see justice," he added.

The video was released days before George Floyd was killed by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and in the midst of continued protests for racial justice across the U.S.

At the state trial of the McMichaels and Bryan, there was no evidence of racial animus raised, but that is expected to be central to the upcoming federal hate crimes trial.


jrDiscussion - desc
Professor Principal
1  seeder  sandy-2021492    3 weeks ago
The judge sentenced Travis McMichael to life plus 20 years and Greg McMichael to life plus 20 years, with the additional punishment stemming from assault and false imprisonment charges. He sentenced Bryan to life plus 10 years — which would be suspended.
Professor Principal
1.1  devangelical  replied to  sandy-2021492 @1    3 weeks ago

maybe trump will pardon them in 2025...

Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
1.1.1  Sean Treacy  replied to  devangelical @1.1    3 weeks ago

Like Clinton pardoned the Capitol Bombers? Possible. 

Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
2  Trout Giggles    3 weeks ago

Fitting sentence. And then there's this:

The men also face a separate federal hate crimes trial later this year.

Biden placed a moratorium on the federal death penalty so they won't have to worry about that

Professor Principal
2.1  Texan1211  replied to  Trout Giggles @2    3 weeks ago
The men also face a separate federal hate crimes trial later this year.

Given the sentences already handed down, what a waste of time and money.

Professor Principal
2.1.1  devangelical  replied to  Texan1211 @2.1    3 weeks ago

ezpz. seize their assets to pay the federal court costs.

Professor Principal
2.1.2  Texan1211  replied to  devangelical @2.1.1    3 weeks ago

Stupid ass plan, of course.

IF they ever get out alive, they will be nothing but very frail old men.


Professor Principal
2.1.3  CB   replied to  Texan1211 @2.1    3 weeks ago

The state case will be appealed at some point. Judgements may be 'adjusted.' The federal cases determine if it is necessary to emphasize the need and strength of severity after all is said and done in its entirety. It is not an efficient system, but murder tinged with racial hatred, triggers a federal law RESPONSE.

Professor Principal
2.1.4  Texan1211  replied to  CB @2.1.3    3 weeks ago

Waste of time and money.

Professor Principal
2.1.5  Texan1211  replied to  Texan1211 @2.1.2    3 weeks ago

Waste money and time, it is the Democratic way, after all.

Professor Principal
2.1.6  CB   replied to  Texan1211 @2.1.5    3 weeks ago

Why, in your opinion? I have a theory, but I would like to hear you out-if you are waiting for me to ask!

Professor Principal
2.1.7  Texan1211  replied to  CB @2.1.6    3 weeks ago
Why, in your opinion?

Have you been reading my posts?

Here it is again:

IF they ever get out alive, they will be nothing but very frail old men.

Now that you know what my opinion is, are we good?

Professor Principal
2.1.8  CB   replied to  Texan1211 @2.1.7    3 weeks ago

In that case: @2.1.3. We are good.

Excuse me for thinking you had something additional to offer for consideration and discussion.

Professor Principal
2.1.9  Texan1211  replied to  CB @2.1.8    3 weeks ago

You are excused.

Still a waste of money and time to accomplish next to nothing.

Seems very Democrat-like.

Sophomore Participates
3  shona1    3 weeks ago


Good, when nothing less will do..

Professor Principal
4  CB     3 weeks ago

It is the saddest of days. None of this had to happen. Absolute waste of a life, and now three other lives 'suspended' for all time. We're all CITIZENS. We are all metaphorical threads in the many colored quilt of America.

In so many ways our country has known this 'schizoid' pathology since its beginning. We have in the past invited the world peoples here to join us ("mi casa, su casa.") only to limit their positive expressions of our EXCEPTIONALISM by capping them as second-class citizens.

On the other-hand, there have been whites, men and women, who have endured great suffering in there own right (and to their generations) in order to treat all citizens of this country one and the same-under the eye of law.

I applaud those whites (some who are here on NT) who stick to the truth, facts, and emotional stability with all of humanity's hues and shades of people. MY BEST TO YOU! God Bless YOU!

We have to get it together. We are all the same once we become citizens of the U.S. Our issues bleed into one another. As well, as our solutions to issues. The problem holding 'America' back from soaring to near its 'zenith' - is our own humanity holding one hand bent behind its back while climbing!

Sophomore Participates
4.1  shona1  replied to  CB @4    3 weeks ago

Morning CB ..very well said...

You have to really wonder what the human race is doing to one another at times.

And that applies to all countries on this planet.

Professor Principal
4.1.1  CB   replied to  shona1 @4.1    3 weeks ago

It is the most unfortunate fixable thing in human nature. Some of humanity has sold itself on a 'bag of goods.' That is, their own (questionable set of) personal values as being more worthy of life than real values that span across all hues and shades. We, humans, are fortunate to sit at the 'steward' level of an entire world with all its riches. And what are is driving a large portion of our 'term'? PETTY SELFISHNESS.

Shona1, we literally dream up new and hostile ways of being nasty and cruel to other humans who wish up only the best. We do these negative things to each other as highly SELF-AWARE creatures  how troubling, disruptive, oppressive, demoralizing, and finally deadly it is.

And with that, we have capability and are actively 'bottle-rocketing' our 'emo' into deepening space beyond. Like this, we simply are not ready to colonize and 'hold' a brand new remote world.

Paula Bartholomew
Professor Guide
5  Paula Bartholomew    3 weeks ago

Throw them all in a cell, throw away the key, and then throw away the cell.

Nowhere Man
Junior Expert
5.1  Nowhere Man  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @5    3 weeks ago

Hey, we have found at least a little bit of ground we can agree on...

Professor Principal
5.2  devangelical  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @5    3 weeks ago

all 3 will be in protective solitary confinement after being released from the prison infirmary.

Professor Principal
6  Kavika     3 weeks ago

If the video hadn't been released this may have been swept under the rug. 

Now at least they will pay for the crime by spending the rest of their lives in prison.

Professor Principal
6.1  CB   replied to  Kavika @6    3 weeks ago

You're so right. I will always wonder about "what ifs" in this case. Thankfully, we learned about this 'curious' case in the sense that one of the perpetrators was the cause of its undoing in a court of law ultimately. Where must men like this live (in their minds) that PRIVILEGE is so high that killing a man, any man - a black man- is so run of the mill that they have a sincere and "honest" expectation their lives will not be disrupted or significantly altered? It just boggles my mind, the line of defense ("I was scared, therefore I acted.") put forward. Time and time again!  I am grateful this time it did not save these men. So grateful to this "jury of his peers."

This is the 'What if' that did not get filed in a cabinet-uncharged. We can just let our imagination loose on how many citizens "UNDESIRABLES" have under false pretenses been beaten, man-handled, humiliated, and ultimately murdered at the hands of 'locals' under some "vigilante clause" in law—of all races and ethnicities. 

Professor Principal
6.1.1  seeder  sandy-2021492  replied to  CB @6.1    3 weeks ago

What kills me is that Roddie Bryan's lawyer released the video because he thought that it would exonerate them.

It most certainly did not.

Professor Principal
6.1.2  Kavika   replied to  sandy-2021492 @6.1.1    3 weeks ago

My understanding was that Roddie insisted that the lawyer release the video. 

Talk about the IQ of a glass of water.

Professor Principal
6.1.3  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @6.1.2    3 weeks ago

the more dumb ass racist goobers it shakes out of the local gov't the better...

Professor Principal
6.1.4  CB   replied to  sandy-2021492 @6.1.1    3 weeks ago

I tuned in and caught Arbery's mom giving her impact statement. Honestly, it was the 'third' defendant, William "Roddie" Bryan, whom I have any sympathy for at all. I don't know why the Arbery family wished him "heavy damnation" when he clearly was so guilt-ridden that he shared his video of the happening with law enforcement authorities. Because they could not otherwise prove their case, it seems to me some extension of GRACE to William Bryan should have been proffered, even as they left the ultimate decision over him up to the court.

Professor Principal
6.1.5  CB   replied to  devangelical @6.1.3    3 weeks ago

I think I read Mr. Bryan was not aware this would escalate to a homicide on the street. As usual, once a gun is involved, drawn out, shotc fired. . .it's all goes dangerously out of control afterwards. He knew he was a guilty man (of one charge or another). Good on him, that he had an intact conscience!

Professor Principal
6.1.6  seeder  sandy-2021492  replied to  CB @6.1.4    3 weeks ago

I don't know that he was guilt-ridden.  It seems to me that he thought he was participating in a justifiable homicide.  Black man he didn't know running + white men he did know chasing said black man = well, said black man must have done something worth being chased and shot.  Yeehaw, let's ride!

He wasn't trying to make the prosecution's case.  He was trying to defend himself.  He thought he hadn't done anything wrong.

Professor Principal
6.1.7  CB   replied to  sandy-2021492 @6.1.6    3 weeks ago

I understand your point: Mr. Bryan turned over the video to authorities as vindication for the actions taken not in favor of Mr. Arbery. Hmm. In that case, I come face-to-face with a presumption of PRIVILEGE by Mr. Bryan as well as the father-son team!

Paula Bartholomew
Professor Guide
6.2  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Kavika @6    3 weeks ago

One of them even admitted that Mr. A was posing no threat and they killed him anyway.

Professor Quiet
7  Ed-NavDoc    3 weeks ago

Three homicidal racist rednecks found guilty and sentenced for their crimes. Justice served. They have been taken out of circulation and will never hurt anyone again.


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