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Sentencing Hearing Held For Men Convicted Of Ahmaud Arbery Murder

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Travis McMichael, one of three men responsible for the death of Ahmaud Arbery, was sentenced to life in prison on federal hate charges in a Georgia courtroom as Arbery’s family was present.

On Monday (August 8th), U.S. District Judge Lisa G. Wood sentenced McMichael to life in prison plus ten years without the possibility of parole for his act of fatally shooting Arbery in February 2020. “You received a fair trial,” Judge Wood said to Travis McMichael as he was being sentenced. “It was the kind of trial Ahmaud Arbery did not receive.” His father, Greg McMichael, would also receive that same sentence later on in the day. William “Roddie” Bryan, their neighbor would receive a prison sentence of 35 years. 

The men were sentenced after a federal jury found them guilty of violating Arbery’s rights “because of his race and color,” underscored by audio of their racist comments during the trial. These sentences come after the state trial where the trio was convicted and subsequently sentenced, with all three receiving life sentences – Bryan was the only one to receive the chance for parole after the judge, in that case, determined that his role was limited.

Ahmaud Arbery’s family members were present for the sentencing in the courtroom. Travis McMichael declined to speak when acceded the opportunity to address the court before his sentencing. His 65-year-old father, however, spoke to the Arbery family. “The loss you’ve endured is beyond description,” he said, “I never wanted any of this to happen.” He also apologized to his son: “I should have never put him in that situation,” he said before apologizing to his wife. Bryan also apologized to the family, saying: “I pray every day for his family that they do find peace.”

Travis McMichael’s attorney asked the judge before sentencing to send him directly to federal prison, saying that being asked to serve his state sentence first could lead to “a back door death penalty.” “I do deny that request, and turn instead to the rules that apply,” Judge Wood said after hearing the request. After the trial, Arbery’s mother stated that she was appreciative of the elder McMichael’s apology, but noted how his son said nothing. “Evidently he wasn’t sorry,” Wanda Cooper-Jones said.