A screen shot of a video that purportedly shows the altercation between Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery and a white father and son that resulted in Arbery's shooting death
A screen shot of a video that purportedly shows the altercation between Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery and a white father and son that resulted in Arbery's shooting death

Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael will spend the rest of their lives in prison for the February 2020 killing of Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.

Their accomplice, William “Roddie” Bryan, also received a life sentence on Friday but he will have a chance for parole after 30 years.

Judge Timothy Walmsley handed the sentences to the men who claimed they were convinced that Arbery had committed a crime in their Satilla Shores neighborhood.

“Sentencing does not generally provide closure,” Judge Walmsley stated.

“In this case, I think many people are seeking closure. The mother, the father, the community, and maybe even parts of the nation, but closure is hard to define and is a granular concept. It’s seen differently by all depending on their perspective and the prism of your lives,” Walmsley said.

He continued:

“Instead of closure, maybe it would be best to see today’s proceeding as an exercise in accountability. We are all accountable for our own actions. Today demonstrates that everybody is accountable to the rule of law. Taking the law into your own hands is a dangerous endeavor.”

Armed with a shotgun and handgun, the McMichaels chased Arbery as he jogged through the neighborhood. Bryan joined the chase in his pickup and recorded the encounter.

The video, which was the most significant evidence that led to charges and conviction, showed Travis McMichael engage Arbery and eventually fatally shoot the unarmed man.

After long delays, several changes in prosecutors, police finally arrested the McMichaels two days after the video went viral. Authorities arrested Bryan two weeks later.

During the trial, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski tore into self-defense claims by the trio, who are all white, and their assertion that they attempted a citizen’s arrest.

Travis McMichael admitted that Arbery never threatened anyone and did not possess a weapon.

A jury of nine white women, two white men, and one Black man found the men guilty.

Travis McMichael saw convictions on all charges, including malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment, and one count of criminal attempt to commit a felony. 

The jury also returned all guilty verdicts against Gregory McMichael, except malice murder.

Bryan heard guilty verdicts on all counts except malice murder, one felony murder count, and one aggravated assault count.

Prosecutors decided not to seek the death penalty, and Georgia law allowed Judge Walmsley to hand down sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment. 

Each of the men said they would appeal their convictions.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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