It has been over a month since the Ahmaud Arbery murderers were found guilty in a Georgia state court. On Friday January 7th, two of the three convicted killers were sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Via NY TIMES
ATLANTA — A Georgia judge on Friday sentenced both Travis McMichael, the man who fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery, and his father to life in prison without the possibility of parole, but issued a lesser sentence of life with the possibility of parole to the other white man convicted of murdering Mr. Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man whom they had chased through their neighborhood.
The three men, Travis McMichael, 35, his father, Gregory McMichael, 66, and their neighbor, William Bryan, 52, were convicted of murder and other counts in state court in November, resulting in mandatory life sentences. The main question before Judge Timothy R. Walmsley on Friday was whether Mr. Arbery’s murderers should be eligible for parole after 30 years, the earliest possible opportunity for such offenders under Georgia law.
The lead prosecutor, Linda Dunikoski, asked the judge to deny the possibility of parole to the McMichaels, arguing that they had displayed a reckless history of “vigilantism” before the killing. She noted that the elder Mr. McMichael had referred to Mr. Arbery as an “asshole” as his body lay in the street and authorities responded. “There’s been no remorse and certainly no empathy from either man,” she said.
She said that Mr. Bryan should be eligible for parole in part because he had cooperated with investigators.
Before issuing the sentences, Judge Walmsley noted that Mr. Arbery had been chased for roughly five minutes while he ran from the men on foot. To illustrate the sense of time, and to emphasize the “terror” he said Mr. Arbery must have felt, the judge paused and let silence fill the room for one minute.
Judge Walmsley said the case should prompt people to consider what it means to be a good neighbor. “Assuming the worst in others, we show our worst character,” he said.
Judge Walmsley’s decision, in the same Brunswick, Ga., courtroom where the racially charged trial unfolded, closed one important chapter in the case against the men who killed Mr. Arbery, who had entered a house under construction in the suburban community of Satilla Shores on a Sunday afternoon in February 2020. The three men pursued him in a pair of trucks, suspecting him of property crimes in the area.
The chase ended when Mr. Arbery, blocked in by the trucks, clashed physically with Travis McMichael, who shot Mr. Arbery three times at close range with a shotgun. Mr. Bryan captured the slaying on his cellphone camera, and when the footage was widely distributed online, it stirred national outrage.