The killers of Ahmaud Arbery were led to their cells in handcuffs on Friday to begin their life sentences, as rifle-toting members of the New Black Panther Party protested outside the Georgia courtroom.
Travis and Gregory McMichael were both sentenced to life without parole for the February 2020 murder, while their neighbor William Roddie Bryan, 52, – who filmed the murder – will be eligible for parole.
The trio were later seen being led away from the courtroom in handcuffs – the McMichaels never to be seen in public again.
Travis McMichael was shackled by the ankles as well as being handcuffs; the other two men were just handcuffed.
During the sentencing hearing, heavily-armed members of the New Black Panther Party gathered outside, raising their fists in a show of support for the Arbery family.
Members of the black nationalist group, which is also anti-white and anti-Semitic, also congregated outside the courthouse during closing arguments, leading the defense lawyers to call for a mistrial and accuse them of intimidation.
Along with banners showing Ahmaud Arbery’s face, the group also carried black and white coffins with mannequins inside them that feature the names of black men killed by police, such as George Floyd and Trayvon Martin.
The NBPP was founded in 1989 and is designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The group is not affiliated with the original Black Panthers from the 1960s, and members of the original Panthers have accused the NBPP of the misappropriation of their name, both in public statements and in legal action.
Travis McMichael, 36, (left) and his father Gregory, 66, were handcuffed as they were led from court on Friday to begin their sentences
William Bryan, the 52-year-old neighbor of the McMichaels, is seen being led away. He too was sentenced to life, but unlike the McMichaels he has the possibility of parole
A member of the New Black Panther Party is seen outside the Glenn County courthouse on Friday
The heavily-armed NBPP members marched outside the courthouse on Friday as the trio were sentenced for Arbery’s killing
Arbery’s parents asked a judge to sentence his killers to life without parole on Friday at a courthouse in Georgia, saying they ‘lynched him in broad daylight’ and targeted him when he felt most ‘free and alive’. Pictured are members of the NBPP
The NBPP flag is hoisted aloft as the party members march in front of the Georgia courthouse
Members of the NBPP raise their fists to show support for the Arbery family during Friday’s sentencing
Judge Timothy R. Walmsley did not specify how long he would have to spend in prison – prosecutors asked that he spend at least 15 years behind bars. Typically, the minimum in Georgia is 30 years.
In handing down his sentence, Judge Walmsley called the murder ‘chilling’ and ‘disturbing’. He talked about the ‘terror’ Arbery must have felt for the five minutes the men chased him in their pick-up trucks with a shotgun and revolver.
‘As we all now know based on the verdict that was handed down in this courtroom, Ahmaud Arbery was murdered. It’s a tragedy. It’s a tragedy on many, many levels.
‘On February 23, 2020…a young man with dreams was gunned down in this community. As we understand it, he went for a run and he ended up running for his life.’
To emphasize how long the five-minute chase must have felt for Arbery, the judge sat silently for a minute in the courtroom.
‘That one minute represents a fraction of the time that Ahmaud Arbery was running in Satilla Shores. The chase that occurred, occurred over a five minute period.
‘When I thought about this, I kept coming back to the terror that must have been in the mind of the young man running through Satilla Shores,’ he said.
‘He was hunted down and shot and he was killed because individuals took the law into their own hands.’
Travis McMichael, left, has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for shooting dead Ahmaud Arbery in 2020
Gregory McMichael, Travis’s 66-year-old father, will also die in prison under the life without parole sentence
William Roddie Bryan, the 52-year-old neighbor who filmed the murder, was sentenced to life but he has been given the possibility of parole. Prosecutors asked that he have to serve at least 15 years behind bars
Judge Timothy Walmsley on Friday called the killing ‘chilling’ and ‘disturbing.’ He talked about the ‘terror’ Arbery must have felt as the men chased him in their pick-up trucks for five minutes
He then recited some of the comments made by the McMichaels after the shooting to prove that it was a ‘callous’ execution, and said they never showed any remorse.
‘Remorse is something that’s felt and demonstrated. In this case, getting back to the video, after Ahmaud Arbery fell, the McMichael’s turned their backs. They walked away. This was a killing. It was callous and it occurred because confrontation was being sought.
‘The most violent crime in Satilla Shores was the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.
‘The record speaks for itself. Greg McMichael tried to establish a narrative. He said he was ‘trapped like a rat.’
Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed in Brunswick, Georgia, U.S. on February 23, 2020,one year on
‘He said, ‘stop or I’ll blow your f*****g head off.’
‘He told Travis ‘you have no choice’. He also said, ‘If I could have gotten a shot at the guy, I would have shot him.”
Unlike the father and son, Bryan appeared to show some remorse in the days and weeks after the killing, he said.
However all three acted as vigilantes, chasing down Arbery and then murdering him because they were ‘seeking confrontation.’
‘Taking the law into your own hands is a dangerous endeavor. Ultimately with regard to the murder of Ahmaud Arbery it holds us all accountable. At a minimum his death should force us to consider expanding our definition of what a neighbor may be and how we treat them.
‘I believe that assuming the worst in others, we show our worst character. Assuming the best in others is always the best course of action. Maybe those are the grand lessons of this case,’ the judge said.
There were celebrations outside the court as the sentences were read aloud.
Earlier, Arbery’s parents asked a judge to sentence his killers to life without parole on Friday at a courthouse in Georgia, saying they ‘lynched him in broad daylight’ and targeted him when he felt most ‘free and alive’.
On February 23, 2020, they chased Arbery, a 26-year-old black man, through a street in Satilla Shores. They said they thought he was a burglar. Travis pulled the trigger, with his father nearby. Bryan filmed the entire incident on his phone.
In November, they were all convicted of murder – which carries a mandatory life sentence. Prosecutors chose not to seek the death penalty.
Gregory and Travis McMichael and their neighbor William Brian Jr were found a guilty of murder in state court on November 23 by a panel of 11 white jurors and one black juror. In compiling that jury pool, 1,000 people in the mostly-white Glynn County were called. Pictured: The moment Arbery was shot by Travis McMichael
Ahmaud Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper Jones celebrates as she leaves court with her family on Friday after her son’s killers were sentenced to life behind bars without parole
Ahmaud Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones, center, speaks with supporters after Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley sentenced Greg McMichael, his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William ‘Roddie’ Bryan, Friday, Jan. 7, 2022, at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick
(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 23, 2021 a woman holds portraits of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd during an event in remembrance of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Ahmaud Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper Jones (left) and father Marcus (right) asked a judge to impose the maximum sentence possible for his killers – life without parole
Arbery’s father Marcus spoke first, telling the court: ‘The man who killed my son has sat in this courtroom every day next to his father. I’ll never get the chance of sitting next to my son ever again. Not at a dinner table, not at a holiday, not at a wedding. I pray that no one in this courtroom has to do what we had – bury their child.’
Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper Jones, pleaded: ‘They were fully committed to their crimes – let them be fully committed for the consequences.’
‘MY SON’S KILLERS HAVE NO REMORSE’ – AHMAUD ARBERY’S MOTHER’S VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT
I want to speak directly to my son. This verdict doesn’t bring you back, but it does help bring closure to this very difficult chapter of my life.
I made a promise to you the day I laid you to rest. I told you I loved you and someday, somehow I would get you justice.
Son, I love you as much today as the day you were born. Raising you was the honor of my life and I am very proud of you.
Your honor, these men have chosen to lie and attack my son and his surviving family. They have no remorse and do not deserve leniency.
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 when they couldn’t sufficiently scare him or intimidate him, they killed him.
My young son, he was born on mothers’ day of 1994. He had a smile so bright it lit up the room. He was a greedy baby and it seemed like he was always searching for something to stick in his mouth.
He was always a loving baby who seemed to never tire of cuddling, hugs and kisses He loved. He never hesitated to tell me, his sister Jasmine or brother Marcus, and we loved him back, He was messy. He sometimes refused to wear socks.
I wish he would have cut and cleaned his toenails before he went out for his jog that day. I guess he would have if he knew he would be murdered.
My family is going to miss Ahmaud, his jokes, impersonations, his warm smile. These men deserve the maximum sentence for their crimes. Ahamud never said a word to them. He never threatened them, he just wanted to be left alone.
They were fully committed to their crimes – let them be fully committed for the consequences.
I’m standing here before you asking you to please give all three defendants who are responsible for the death of my son, the maximum punishment in this court which I do believe is life without bars without the possible chance for parole.
She also referred to her son’s toenails on the day of the murder – something that was brought up during the trial in by a defense attorney who stoked outrage by referring to his ‘long, dirty toenails’.
Wanda, on Friday, said: ‘I wish he would have cut and cleaned his toenails before he went out for his jog that day. I guess he would have if he knew he would be murdered.’
She then pleaded with the judge: ‘Your honor, I am standing here before you today as the mother of Ahmaud Arbery asking you to please give all three defendants who are responsible for the death of my son, the maximum punishment which I do believe is life without bars without the possible chance for parole.’
The men’s lawyers are asking that they be granted parole after 30 years. Prosecutors have asked the judge not to grant any of the men parole.
Cooper Jones spoke about Ahmaud as a ‘loving’ baby who ‘never seemed to tire of cuddles, hugs and kisses.’
His father Marcus told how he loved to run more than anything because it made him feel ‘free’.
‘Not only did they lynch my son in broad daylight but they killed him when he was doing what he loved more than anything – running.
‘That’s when he felt most alive. Most free. And they took all of that from him.
‘When I close my eyes, I see his execution over and over. I’ll see that for the rest of my life.
‘When I became a father my life became bigger than me, it became bigger than me about my family, protecting him, protecting my boy. I know in my head that there is nothing I could have done that day to have saved my son.
‘To save him from this evil and hate. My heart is broken and always will be.
‘If I could trade places with Ahmaud, I would in a heartbeat but I can’t’. I’m standing here to do what he can’t – that is to fight for him. His memory, his legacy and to tell you who he was.
‘That’s the one thing you didn’t hear in this courtroom. More than anything else, you should know who my boy was.
‘We love our son and we will never have him with us to celebrate anything. Thanksgiving, Christmas…his birthday his killers should spend the rest of their lives thinking about what they took from us.
‘It should be behind my bars.
‘Me and my family have got to live with this for the rest of our lives. They should stay behind those bars the rest of their lives. They didn’t give him a chance.’
Ahmaud’s mother spoke directly to him, saying: ‘This verdict doesn’t bring you back. But it does help bring closure to this very difficult chapter of my life.
‘I made a promise to you the day I laid you to rest.
‘I told you I loved you and someday, somehow I would get you justice.
‘Son, I love you as much today as the day you were born.
‘Raising you was the honor of my life and I am very proud of you.’
She said none of the killers showed remorse for their actions, and deserved to die in prison.
‘They have no remorse and do not deserve leniency. 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.
‘And when they couldn’t sufficiently scare him or intimidate him, they killed him.’
Arbery, a 25-year-old avid jogger, was running through the mostly white residential neighborhood of Satilla Shores on the afternoon of Feb. 23 when the McMichaels decided to grab their guns, jump in a pickup truck and give chase.
The younger McMichael would later testify to the jury they had a hunch Arbery might be fleeing a crime.
Bryan joined the chase in his own pickup truck after it passed his driveway, and pulled out his cellphone to record Travis McMichael firing a shotgun at Arbery at close range.
Arbery had nothing on him besides his running clothes and sneakers.
The video caused outrage when it emerged months later and it became clear that none of the men involved had yet been arrested after a local prosecutor concluded the killing was justified.
Ahmaud Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones wipes a tear from her eyes while listening to her daughter’s impact statement to Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley
Ahmaud Arbery’s sister Jasmine Arbery wipes a tear from her eyes while listening to her mother’s impact statement to Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley during the sentencing of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William ‘Roddie’ Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, on January 7, 2022 in Brunswick, Georgia
Ahmaud Arbery’s father Marcus Arbery, center, sits in the courtroom with other family members during the sentencing of Greg McMichael, his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William ‘Roddie’ Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse
William Roddie Bryan, 52, arrives at court in Brunswick, Georgia, on Friday to be sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery
Travis McMichael, 35, arrives in court in shackles on Friday morning to be sentenced for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. He will be at least 65 before he gets out of prison
Gregory McMichael, 66, is shown arriving at court for the 10am sentencing hearing
Gregory McMichael makes his way into court on Friday to be sentenced to life in prison
‘The day has finally come that we will get justice.
‘The day my family an I have prayed for… it has finally come.’
Defense attorneys then pleaded with the judge not to sentence the men to the harshest possible term.
Gregory McMichael’s attorney, Laura Hogue, called him a ‘man of goodness’ and referred to the killing as a ‘five minute chase that ended in tragedy.’
‘Greg McMichael is a good man. He is not a perfect person but none of us are.
‘The choices he made as a young man, all the way through to the rest of his life, to serve, not to acquire wealth, but to quietly go through the business of choosing career options to help other people.
‘I say without hesitation he remains a man of goodness,’ she said.
Three white men guilty of Ahmaud Arbery faced 27 charges between them – this is what each of them mean
COUNT 1 – MALICE MURDER
This is defined as causing a person’s death with deliberate intention without provocation and ‘where all the circumstances in the killing show an abandoned and malignant heart’.
Travis McMichael – Guilty
Gregory McMichael – Not guilty
William ‘Roddie’ Bryan – Not guilty
COUNTS 2, 3, 4 AND 5 – FELONY MURDER
This applies when a death is caused in the course of committing another felony whether or not the killing was intentional or unprovoked.
Travis McMichael – Guilty on all counts
Gregory McMichael – Guilty on all counts
William ‘Roddie’ Bryan – Guilty on three counts, not guilty on one counts
COUNT 6 and 7 – AGGRAVATED ASSAULT
Under Georgia law this is an assault using a deadly weapon. Count six refers to the shotgun used, count 7 refers to the two pickup trucks, driven by Gregory McMichael and William ‘Roddie’ Bryan, used to box Arbery in.
Travis McMichael – Guilty
Gregory McMichael – Not guilty on count 6; Guilty on count 7
William ‘Roddie’ Bryan – Not guilty on count 6; Guilty on count 7
COUNT 8 – FALSE IMPRISONMENT
This is when a person ‘arrests, confines, or detains’ another person without legal authority.
Travis McMichael – Guilty
Gregory McMichael – Guilty
William ‘Roddie’ Bryan – Guilty
COUNT 9 – CRIMINAL INTENT TO COMMIT A FELONY
This refers to performing ‘any act which constitutes a substantial step’ toward the intentional commission of a crime
Travis McMichael – Guilty
Gregory McMichael – Guilty
William ‘Roddie’ Bryan – Guilty
Ahmaud Arbery’s father Marcus Arbery arrives at court on Friday for the sentencing. He spoke briefly before the hearing, telling reporters he is a ‘different man now’
Ahmaud Arbery’s family and friends arrive at the courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia, on Friday morning