A federal judge Monday sentenced Travis and Gregory McMichael, two of the three men convicted in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, to life in prison for violating Arbery’s civil rights. A third defendant, William “Roddie” Bryan, was sentenced to 35 years.
The McMichaels and Bryan were found guilty in February of interfering with Arbery’s rights, causing death under 18 USC §245(b)(2)(B). A federal jury deemed that they had interfered with Arbery’s right to jog on a public street because of his race, causing Arbery’s death. The defendants were also found guilty of attempted kidnapping, and Travis McMichael alone was found guilty of discharging a firearm in the course of a hate crime.
The maximum sentence for the McMichaels’ civil rights convictions is capital punishment since their actions resulted in Arbery’s death. However, federal prosecutors did not seek the death penalty in this case, as state prosecutors did not seek it in their sentencing for murder.
District Judge Lisa Wood of the US District Court for the Southern District of Georgia told Travis McMichael during sentencing that “You killed a man on Feb. 23, 2020” and that “A jury found that you acted because of the color of Mr. Arbery’s skin.”
Arbery was murdered in February 2020 while out for a jog in Satilla Shores, Georgia. The McMichaels and Bryan told a 911 dispatcher that they were following Arbery because they suspected that he had trespassed in a nearby home under construction. In an altercation caught on video, the McMichaels approached Arbery in a pickup truck, and Travis McMichael shot Arbery after a brief struggle over McMichael’s shotgun.
The case garnered national attention after the video, taken by Bryan, was published online and after word had gotten out that former local district attorney Jackie Johnson may have violated her oath of office by acting on the case without disclosing that Gregory McMichael had worked for her as an investigator. Johnson was indicted by a Georgia grand jury for violating her oath but has not been arraigned.