The chase ended when Mr. Arbery, blocked by trucks, physically collided with Travis McMichael, who shot Arbery three times at point-blank range with a shotgun. Bryan captured the murder on his cell phone camera, and when the footage was widely distributed online, it sparked national outrage.
On Friday, Mr. Arbery’s relatives gave a series of heartbreaking statements to the judge, arguing that the men should receive the maximum possible sentences. His sister, Jasmine Arbery, said the men wrongly considered Mr. Arbery a “dangerous criminal” because of his dark skin and curly hair.
Mr. Arbery was a jogging enthusiast and his family have said that he entered the neighborhood on the day of his death. Marcus Arbery Sr., his father, told the court: “They not only lynched my son in broad daylight, but they killed him while doing what he loved” more than anything: “running.”
Wanda Cooper-Jones, Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, noted that her son never spoke to his pursuers during the persecution. “He never said a word to them, he never threatened them, he just wanted them to leave him alone,” he said. “They were completely committed to their crimes. That they commit themselves fully to its consequences. “
The case is likely to be appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court. But in an interview this week, Cooper-Jones said he was preparing for the next trial, in federal court, where the three men are charged with hate crimes and attempted kidnapping, and also face possible life sentences. Jury selection in that case is scheduled to begin on February 7.
“I’ll be there every day,” he said. “They also need to answer those charges.”
Cooper-Jones said federal prosecutors had recently contacted her and asked if she would be comfortable with a plea deal. He said he told them he preferred the federal case to go to trial.