Arbery killers sentenced to life in prison, no parole for father, son


Three white men who chased and killed Ahmaud Arbery have been sentenced to life in prison, with a judge denying any chance of parole for the father and son who armed themselves and initiated the deadly pursuit of the then-25-year-old Black man.

Greg and Travis McMichael grabbed guns and chased Arbery in a pick-up truck after spotting him running in their neighbourhood outside Brunswick on February 23, 2020.

Neighbour William "Roddie" Bryan joined the pursuit and recorded video on his phone of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery with a shotgun.

In November, a jury convicted all three men of murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and attempted false imprisonment.

Murder carries a mandatory life sentence in Georgia. The trial judge ordered both McMichaels to serve life without parole. Bryan was granted a chance of parole, but must first serve at least 30 years in prison.

'No empathy for Arbery, prosecutor says

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski asked the judge to sentence Travis and Greg McMichael to life without parole, and the possibility of parole for Bryan.

But she said all three deserved mandatory life sentences for showing "no empathy for the trapped and terrified Ahmaud Arbery."

Earlier this week, Dunikoski disclosed that Greg McMichael gave Bryan's video of the shooting to an attorney, who leaked it.

"He believed it was going to exonerate him," she said.

The possibility of parole for Travis McMichael, 35, could mean he would be released from prison in his 60s, according to his lawyer Robert Rubin.

Rubin argued that Ms McMichael opened fire only after "Mr Arbery came at him and grabbed the gun".

But he acknowledged his client's decisions to arm himself and chase Arbery were "reckless" and "thoughtless".

"They are not evidence of a soul so blackened as to deserve to spend the rest of his life in prison," he said.

"This was not a planned murder. This was a fight over a gun that led to Mr Arbery’s death."

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Greg McMichael, 66, and Bryan, 52, will likely spend the rest of their lives in prison even if given a chance of parole.

Laura Hogue, Greg McMichael's lawyer, said granting him a chance at parole would show he did not intend for Arbery to die, never pulling his gun until his son fired his shotgun.

"Greg McMichael did not leave his home that day hoping to kill," she said.

"He did not view his son firing that shotgun with anything other than fear and sadness.

"What this jury found was this was an unintentional act."

Kevin Gough, William Bryan's, lawyer said he should get a chance at parole because he showed remorse and cooperated with police, turning over the video of the shooting.

"Mr Bryan isn't the one who brought a gun," he said.

"He was unarmed. And I think that reflects his intentions."

'They chose to target my son'

Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery's mother, asked for the maximum sentence and said she suffered a personal, intense loss made worse by a trial where the men's defence was that her son made bad choices that led to his death.

"This wasn't a case of mistaken identity or mistaken fact," she said.

"They chose to target my son because they didn't want him in their community.

"They chose to treat him differently than other people who frequently visited their community.

"And when they couldn't sufficiently scare or intimidate him, they killed him."

The killing became part of a larger national reckoning on racial injustice when the video was posted online two months later.

AP/Reuters

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news



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