Travis McMichael, one of three white men convicted of pursuing Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery through a Georgia neighborhood and ultimately killing him in 2020, was sentenced Monday to life plus 10 years in prison on federal hate crime charges in connection to the incident.
McMichael, 36, the professed gunman, was found guilty with a federal conviction on interference with rights — a hate crime — along with attempted kidnapping and weapon use charges.
A judge also declined a request by McMichael’s attorney that McMichael serve his sentence in state prison, rather than in a federal prison facility.
U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood told McMichael before she pronounced the sentence that, unlike the victim, McMichael had actually gotten a fair trial, “the kind of trial that Ahmaud Arbery did not receive before he was shot and killed.”
“You killed a man on Feb. 23, 2020. The events depicted in the video, they are seared in the annals of this court and no doubt in your mind forever,” she said.
McMichael’s attorney, Amy Lee Copeland, cited her client getting “hundreds of threats” in a request that the judge allow him to serve his sentence in federal prison, fearing that he could be killed in state custody. Copeland also claimed to be concerned about an investigation by the Department of Justice into inmate violence in the Georgia state prison system.
Arbery’s family and the prosecution requested that McMichael serve his sentence in state prison.
The sentencing of McMichael is the first of three back-to-back scheduled Monday for the men involved in the attack.
McMichael and his father, Greg McMichael, 66, armed themselves and used a pickup truck to chase Arbery as he jogged through their Georgia neighborhood. Neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, joined the unauthorized pursuit in his own truck and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery with a shotgun. No arrests were made until the video leaked online two months later.
The older McMichael and Bryan also are scheduled to be sentenced Monday. The three men already are serving life sentences for murder on state charges.
Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery Sr., said Travis McMichael deserved to “rot” in state prison.
“You killed him because he was a Black man and you hate Black people,” he said. “You deserve no mercy.”
The Associated Press reported that in social media posts going back years, Travis McMichael frequently mentioned violence against Black people. In December 2018, he commented on a Facebook video of a Black man playing a prank on a white person: “I’d kill that f—-ing n—-r.”
And in June 2017, he shared a TV news story about a violent confrontation between two white women and two Black customers upset about cold food at a Georgia restaurant, using a racial slur to comment that he would beat the Black people “to death if they did that to (name redacted by the FBI) or my mother and sister.” He added that he would have no more remorse than putting down a rabid animal.
“You killed him because he was a Black man and you hate Black people,” he said.
Wanda Cooper-Jones, Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, said Travis McMichael “took my baby son.”