The murderers of the young African-American Ahmaud Arbery were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Former cop Gregory McMichael, his son Travis and his neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan could still face capital punishment if found guilty in a federal court trial on hate crime charges.
Three men were sentenced this Friday to life imprisonment for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a young African-American who was "hunted" and killed with a shotgun while running in 2020 through a neighborhood in the city of Brunswick (Georgia, USA), in one case That sparked a wave of outrage and protests.
Gregory McMichael, 66; his son Travis, 35; and his neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan, 52, could still face the death penalty if found guilty in a new trial that they must face, this time in federal court, to answer for charges. Hate crimes for killing Arbery because he was black.
Glynn County Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley sentenced McMichaels to life in prison without the possibility of parole, while Bryan was given the same sentence but with the opportunity to be released on parole once you have served at least 30 years of the sentence.
"Ahmaud Arbery went out for a run and ended up running for his life," said the magistrate, who observed a minute's silence for the victim of that "cruel" murder.
The McMichael and Bryans were found guilty on November 24 of last year, after the jury deliberated for ten hours, in a trial in which about thirty witnesses appeared to testify over almost two weeks.
During the sentencing hearing on Friday, the victim's parents implored the judge that those guilty of the murder of their son remain in prison for the rest of their lives. "When I close my eyes, I see his execution in my mind, over and over again. I'm going to see this for the rest of my life," said Marcus Arbery, the boy's father.
"Ahmaud never said a word to them; he never threatened them; he just wanted to be left alone. (The killers) were completely committed to their crimes. That they commit themselves completely with the consequences", asked for his part Wanda Cooper-Jones; Arbery's mother was visibly shocked.
Outside the Glynn courthouse, a group of people, primarily African-American, celebrated the sentence amid a heavy police display.
Arbery's death, which occurred on February 23, 2020, went unnoticed for several months until at the beginning of May, a video that Bryan recorded with his cell phone leaked online showing when the young man was intercepted by the McMichael, who, After chasing him and cornering him in his truck, they shot him point-blank with a shotgun.
The investigation was then taken over by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), which within days ordered the arrest of the three men, one of whom - Gregory McMichael - a former Glynn County police officer and bureau. He was an investigator for the Office of the Prosecutor. In the neighborhood
Before issuing its verdict, the jury asked the judge to show again the death video, which became a key piece of evidence during the trial, and asked to hear the call to the 911 emergency number that the defendants made.
During the trial, the defense argued that the defendants were trying to apprehend the citizen on suspicion that the young man was a thief because on several occasions, they claimed to have given him a submarine in the neighborhood of Satella Shores. I have seen house building coming often.
Travis MacMillan testified that he shot Arberry in self-defense when he allegedly attacked him with his fists while facing him. However, the state attorney's office proved that the 25-year-old had never committed a crime and that he was not killed by McMichaels and Bryan because he was a threat to them, but because he refused to talk to them. did not come.
Presenting her closing arguments, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said that for the citizen's arrest for having been legal, the person attempting to execute it must have witnessed a crime, something that never happened.
Arbery's death prompted the Georgia Legislature to pass a measure criminalizing hate crimes in the state, a bipartisan initiative enacted by the governor, Republican Brian Kemp, who hailed it as a "sign of progress.".
Although the new law could not be applied in this trial, the Federal Prosecutor's Office did present the charges in the new problem that the three inmates will face as of February 7, when the jury selection is scheduled to begin.
Arbery's case joined several others that generated a wave of outrage and protests in the summer of 2020, including that of the young African-American Rayshard Brooks, who died after being shot by a white police officer in Atlanta, and that of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, died after being arrested by a white officer.