The three men found guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery each received life sentences in prison on Friday.
Travis McMichael and Gregory McMichael were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, while William Bryan was handed a life sentence with the possibility of parole, the Post Millennial reported.
Judge Timothy Walmsley delivered the sentences in Brunswick, Georgia, and he explained the rationale for a shorter sentence for Bryan.
“I think Roddie Bryan stands in very different shoes,” Walmsley said. “It is obvious from the very beginning that he questioned the tragedy that had occurred at the scene … and then took steps, early on in this process, I think that demonstrated that he had grave concerns that what had occurred should not have occurred.”
According to NPR, the McMichaels began following Arbery on Feb. 23, 2020, after seeing him running in their neighborhood. Bryan joined them and began filming some of the chase on his phone.
The video showed Travis McMichael approach Arbery outside the pickup truck the men were driving. They appeared to get in a scuffle, and Travis McMichael eventually shot Arbery and killed him.
Travis McMichael was convicted on all nine counts brought against him, which included malice murder, four counts of felony murder and false imprisonment.
Gregory McMichael was found not guilty of malice murder, but was convicted on the other eight counts. Bryan was found guilty on six of the nine charges, three of which were felony murder counts.
Kevin Gough, Bryan’s attorney, had argued for a lighter sentence for Bryan because he had no previous felony convictions. He said Bryan’s case was much different than the McMichaels’.
“Roddie Bryan really had no idea of what was going on — or why — until after the tragic death of Mr. Arbery,” Gough said, according to NPR.
Arbery’s family members also gave emotional statements about the impact the murder had on them.
“Ahmaud had a future that was taken from him in an instance of violence,” Ahmaud’s sister Jasmine Arbery said.
“He was robbed of his life pleasures, big and small. He will never be able to fulfill his professional dreams, nor will he be able to start a family, or even be a part of my daughter’s life.”
Ahmaud’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones said the verdict provided a small comfort in her time of loss.
“This verdict doesn’t bring you back, but it does help bring closure to this very difficult chapter of my life,” she said.
“I made a promise to you the day I laid you to rest. I told you I love you — and someday, somehow, I would get you justice. Son, I love you as much today as I did the day that you were born. Raising you was the honor of my life, and I’m very proud of you.”
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