Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. were sentenced to life in prison on Friday (Jan. 7) in Ahmaud Arbery’s murder.
On Friday afternoon, Judge Timothy Walmsley sentenced Travis to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus 20 years; Gregory to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus 20 years; and Bryan to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
“Something that hasn’t sat right with me during this whole trial… This man who killed my son has sat next to his father in this courtroom every single day,” Arbery’s father Marcus Arbery Sr. said before the sentencing. “I’ll never get the chance to sit next to my son again. Not at a dinner table, not on a holiday, not at a wedding.”
“This verdict doesn’t get [Ahmaud] back, but it does help bring closure to this very difficult chapter of my life,” Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery’s mother, said. “I made you a promise when I laid you to rest… that somehow, someday I would get you justice.”
Cooper-Jones also mentioned one defense attorney’s comments about her son’s “long, dirty toenails.”
“I wish he would have cut and cleaned his toenails before he went out that day. I guess he would have if he knew he was going to be murdered,” she said.
Travis, who fatally shot Arbery, was previously found guilty of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, aggravated assault with a shotgun, aggravated assault with a pickup truck, false imprisonment and criminal intent to commit a felony.
His father Gregory, who helped Travis chase Arbery down in their truck, was convicted of four counts of felony murder, aggravated assault with a shotgun, aggravated assault with a pickup truck, false imprisonment and criminal intent to commit a felony.
Their neighbor Bryan, who filmed the encounter, was found guilty of three felony murder counts, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal intent to commit a felony.
Prior to the three men’s sentencing, civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents Arbery’s family, called their convictions “an awakening in America.”
“What we pray for is that this is a new precedent in America that harkens back to the words written in 1776 when we say we hold these truths, that all men are created equally,” Crump said. “We pray that we see that same spirit in a sentence of these killers, this lynch mob. We want to make sure that they don’t get a slap on the wrist.”
Arbery was pursued by the three men while he was out for a jog in February of 2020. Travis and Gregory armed themselves and chased Arbery in their truck, while Bryan was accused of cutting off the jogger with his own vehicle and filming the encounter.
The McMichaels and Bryan were also indicted on federal hate crime charges, jury selection for which is set to begin on Feb. 7.