Gregory and Travis McMichael grabbed guns and chased Arbery in a pickup truck after spotting him running in their neighborhood outside the Georgia port city of Brunswick, prosecutors said. Neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan joined the pursuit and recorded a video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery with a shotgun.
While Gregory and Travis McMichael were denied parole, Bryan was granted a chance for parole but first must serve at least 30 years in prison.
“I’ve read somewhere, and I don’t remember where it was, that at a minimum, Ahmaud Arbery’s death should force us to consider expanding our definition of what a neighbor may be and how we treat them. I argue that maybe a neighbor is more than the people who just own property around your house. I believe that assuming the worst in others we show our worst character,” Judge Timothy Walmsley said before the sentencing on Friday.
The attorney for Gregory McMichael told the court that her client was a “man of goodness” and did not intend to kill Arbery. That fact should be factored into his sentencing, attorney Laura Hogue said.
“The best indicator of what happened in order to respect the jury’s verdict is to listen to the jury verdict. The jury found that Greg McMichael as a party to the crime committed felonies that unintentionally lead to Ahmaud Arbery’s death,” Hogue said Friday in court.
And Bob Rubin, Travis McMichael’s attorney, argued that a sentence of life without parole is unfair.
“Nothing in Travis McMichael’s life suggests that he is a danger to society now or will be a danger to society 30 years from now,” he said. “When he’s in his 60s … Do we still need, want, a person like Travis McMichael behind bars?” Rubin asked.
But Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, asked the court in public remarks to impose the maximum sentence on the three men.
“These men have chose (sic) to lie and attack my son and his surviving family. They each have no remorse and do not deserve any leniency,” Cooper-Jones said in a victim impact statement. “They chose to treat him differently than other people who frequently visited their community. And when they couldn’t sufficiently scare him or intimidate him, they killed him,” she added.
Ahmaud Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery, also said Friday the three “should spend the rest of their lives thinking about what they did and what they took from us and they should do it behind bars because me and my family have to do it for the rest of their life.”