Ahmaud Arbery killers sentenced to life in prison

"He was killed because individuals here in the courtroom took the law into their own hands,” the judge said

By Brett Bachman

Published January 7, 2022 4:16PM (EST)

Defendant Travis McMichael observes court proceedings during the trial for Ahmaud Arbery's shooting death at the Glynn County Courthouse on November 8, 2021 in Brunswick, Georgia. Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, are charged with the February 2021 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
Defendant Travis McMichael observes court proceedings during the trial for Ahmaud Arbery's shooting death at the Glynn County Courthouse on November 8, 2021 in Brunswick, Georgia. Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, are charged with the February 2021 slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

The three white men who chased and killed Georgia jogger Ahmaud Arbery last year were sentenced to life in prison Friday, reports said. 

In handing down the sentence, Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley denied the father-son pair of Greg and Travis McMichael any chance of parole — with the third man, William Bryan, forced to serve at least 30 years before earning a chance at release, according to the Associated Press. They were convicted of the crimes last month. 

In his statement, Walmsley denounced the brand of vigilante justice handed down by the three men, who maintained during the case that they suspected Arbery of burglarizing the neighborhood — though they had no positive proof of the crimes. 

"Ahmaud Arbery was hunted down and shot, and he was killed because individuals here in the courtroom took the law into their own hands," the judge said, pausing at one point for a moment of silence. 


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"When I thought about this, I thought from a lot of different angles. I kept coming back to the terror that must have been in the mind of the young man," he added.

Both Bryan and the McMichaels chased Arbery around the Brunswick, Georgia, neighborhood of Satilla Shores while Arbery was out for a jog, brandishing a shotgun that Travis McMichael eventually used to shoot Arbery during a scuffle. 

During the trial, one of McMichael's attorneys acknowledged the decision to chase and confront Arbery was "reckless" and "thoughtless." 

Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said that the trial was especially hard to sit through as the trio's lawyers attempted to make the argument that it was ultimately her son's poor choices that led to his death.

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"This wasn't a case of mistaken identity or mistaken fact. 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," Wanda Cooper-Jones said. "And when they couldn't sufficiently scare or intimidate him, they killed him."

The three men also face a federal hate crimes trial set to begin next month — with jury selection slated for Feb. 7.


Brett Bachman

Brett Bachman is the Nights/Weekend Editor at Salon.

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Ahmaud Arbery Brief Georgia Greg Arbery Hate Crime Prison Travis Mcmichael William Bryan