Father and son sentenced to second life in state prison for federal hate crimes murder of Ahmaud Arbery, third man sentenced to 35 years in prison

Despite their pleas for leniency, the father, who helped corner and capture a black jogger in a Georgia neighborhood, and his son, who pulled the trigger on the man, are on federal hate crime charges and in state prison serve for life.

Travis and George McMichael will be serving their federal sentences concurrently with their state murder sentences, plus additional years on attempted kidnapping and gun charges. They had asked the judge to place her in a federal facility because they believed it would be safer. Travis McMichael fears he will be killed in a state prison. The murder of Ahmaud Arbery drew national attention, prompting state legislatures to reform Georgia’s citizen detention law and introduce a hate crime punishment.

The verdict will keep the McMichaels in prison even if the state convictions are overturned. Another co-defendant, a neighbor Willie “Roddie” Bryan, received more than 37 years in prison with 27 months of service.

(From left) Willam “Roddie” Bryan, Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael. (file photos)

A jury in February found the trio guilty of encroachment on one’s rights, a federal hate crime. Prosecutors argued that the men targeted Arbery because he is black. The victim’s family asked Judge Wood to give the men the maximum sentence.

“My son was shot not just once, not twice, but three times,” Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said before Travis McMichael’s sentence was announced. “Your Honor,” she said. “I feel every shot that was fired every day.”

The father and son followed Arbery in a pickup truck in a neighborhood near Waycross, Georgia after Travis McMichael saw him walking around a house under construction in February 2020. The pair cornered and blocked Arbery in the street while Bryan recorded the incident on his cell phone. Travis jumped out of his truck, confronted the 25-year-old and shot him. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for using and carrying a Remington shotgun. His father will serve seven years for his gun load.

Federal prosecutors used the men’s previous social media posts and conversations to argue that their views of black people led them to believe Arbery was a burglar.

Gregory McMichael had asked the court for 20 years instead of life imprisonment because of his health, arguing that he was not racist for helping black people while serving as a police officer and in the US Navy.

Lawyers for George McMichael pointed out that in the 1970s he saved the life of a black sailor and escorted a black man on a lawnmower for his safety as a police officer. Travis McMichael’s defense attorneys argued that the gun dispute caused the shooting. His attorneys said he had received “thousands” of threats and that ordering him to serve in state prison would be a “backdoor punishment.”

“How dare you beg for mercy? You showed no mercy to my Quez,” Marcus Arbery said, referring to his son by his middle name.

Bryan’s attorney also argued that his client should get less than life imprisonment for not taking part in the violence. Bryan’s attorney, J. Pete Theodocian, said Bryan did not know any of the people involved or that the McMichaels had guns. Bryan apologized to Arbery’s family on Monday.

“The evidence showed that Bryan acted out of ignorance, not hate, and without close anticipation of potential violence like the McMichaels. As the McMichaels drove away in their truck armed with guns, they signed up for a possible shootout,” Theodocian wrote in the memo.

Although Bryan avoided a life sentence, Wood pointed out that it was not a light sentence.

“Because you don’t deserve a light sentence,” the judge added.

The Georgia NAACP welcomed the judge’s ruling Monday and thanked the US Department of Justice for prosecuting the convicted killers.

“A black man in Georgia should feel free to enjoy his civil rights anywhere in the state without fear of armed vigilantes. Ahmaud should have been able to finish his run in peace, but his memory changed the course of Georgian history forever. We will continue to pursue the pursuit of full justice with his family and the citizens of Glynn County,” Georgia NAACP President Gerald Griggs said in a statement.

https://atlantablackstar.com/2022/08/08/you-dont-deserve-a-light-sentence-father-and-son-convicted-in-ahmaud-arbery-murder-to-get-second-life-sentence-for-federal-hate-crime-in-state-prison-third-man-gets-35-years/ Father and son sentenced to second life in state prison for federal hate crimes murder of Ahmaud Arbery, third man sentenced to 35 years in prison

James Brien

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