The three white men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery were sentenced to life in prison Friday by a Georgia superior court judge.
Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was killed in February 2020 by father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael and William Bryan, who pursued Arbery in their pickup truck and shot him multiple times. The three men were indicted on nine counts of murder and assault, and they were found guilty in November by a jury after a day of deliberations.
Both the father and son were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole plus twenty years, while Bryan was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole plus ten years. Judge Timothy Walmsley called Arbery’s slaying a “tragedy” and said he had been “hunted down and shot” by the defendants. The sentencing was the end of a rough road for the case, marred by accusations of racial injustice after it took weeks of public pressure for prosecutors to initially bring charges in the case and following requests by the defendant’s attorneys to bar Black pastors from the courtroom.
In her impact statement, Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said that the defendants “chose to target my son because they didn’t want him in their community.” Arbery’s sister Jasmine said that his killing had “devastated me and my family” and asked for the maximum sentence to be imposed. Following the verdict, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund released a statement noting that despite the positive verdicts, the trial “nonetheless crystalized ongoing injustices that pervade our criminal legal system and often deny accountability to far too many victims of racial violence.”
The three men have also been indicted by a federal grand jury on hate crimes charges, for which they will face trial later this year.