Travis McMichael was sentenced to life in prison plus 10 years for committing a federal hate crime in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery on Monday (Aug 8). The 36-year-old will be required to serve his life sentence in state prison instead of federal, as requested by his legal team.
The other men involved, McMichael’s father, Gregory, and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, were also convicted for violating Arbery’s civil rights in November and will learn their fate today. The McMichaels attempted to plead guilty to the hate crime charges ahead of the trial to skip the murder charges. But Arbery’s parents protested that in that case, the men would be eligible to serve time in a federal prison — which isn’t as harsh as a state prison. This month, Gregory’s attorney asked the judge not to impose a life sentence, although he said his client still deserves “a substantial period of incarceration.”
Federal prosecutors successfully established that the trio’s strong prejudice against Black people led to the killing of Arbery. Witnesses included an FBI analyst, who conducted a deep dive on the men’s social media accounts, neighbors, and former co-workers, who all testified that the father and son duo are open about their negative feelings towards the Black community. The defense argued that the social media posts and messages were taken out of context and insisted the men were not motivated by their racial bias to hunt down and kill Arbery.
The verdict comes two years after Arbery was gunned down while jogging through Georgia’s Satilla Shores neighborhood on Feb. 23, 2020. The McMichaels grabbed guns and hopped in their truck to chase Arbery after spotting him run past their home. Bryan joined the chase in his truck, blocking off Arbery’s trail, and recorded Travis opening fire on the victim at close range. Following the release of Bryan’s cell phone footage, the men were arrested. The case grew national attention and sparked ongoing protests against the unjust killings of innocent Black people like Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.