Brunswick, GA – Two of the three Glynn County men who were found guilty on Nov. 24, 2021 of the murder of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery were sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole on Friday afternoon.
Superior Court Judge Timothy R. Walmsley called the sentencing on Jan. 7 “an exercise in accountability,” something he said was lost on many in “this day and age.”
Walmsley sentenced Travis McMichael, the defendant who actually shot Arbery multiple times, and his father, Gregory McMichael, both to life in prison without the possibility of parole, WSB reported.
The judge sentenced William “Roddie” Bryan, the man who helped box in Arbery and then filmed the notorious cell phone video as Arbery was being chased and gunned down by the McMichaels in the Satilla Shores neighborhood, to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
All three defendants are still facing federal hate crime charges in connection with Arbery’s murder.
On April 28, 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced in a press release that a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Georgia had indicted both McMichaels and Bryan on one count each of interference with rights and one count each of attempted kidnapping.
DOJ said both McMichaels were also charged with one count each of using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
Additionally, Travis McMichael was charged with one count of discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, according to the press release.
Jury selection is scheduled to begin in the federal trial on Feb. 7 in U.S. District Court, WTOC reported.
The police report said the incident began when Arbery jogged past the McMichaels’ home on Feb. 23, 2020, the Associated Press reported.
The McMichaels told police afterwards that they thought Arbery was the suspect in several recent burglaries in the neighborhood, so they armed themselves and followed him.
The men jumped in their pickup truck and followed the 25 year old as he ran through the neighborhood.
Bryan, their neighbor, jumped in his own pickup truck and joined in, according to CBS News.
Special Prosecutor Jesse Evans said the men effectively boxed in Arbery with their pickup trucks, forcing the encounter that followed.
Evans said Arbery was “was chased, hunted down and ultimately executed,” CBS News reported.
The video filmed by Bryan showed Arbery running up the middle of the residential road toward a white pickup truck that was stopped in the road ahead of him.
In the video, Arbery dodged to the right onto the grass to go around the stopped truck.
Yelling could be heard in the video for a second, and then a gunshot, just before Arbery reappeared in front of the truck.
The video showed Gregory McMichael stood up in the bed of the pickup with a gun in his hand.
Arbery appeared to engage Travis McMichael, who was holding a pump-action shotgun, in a struggle for the gun that drifted off camera for a split second.
While they were off-camera, Travis McMichael’s gun went off – a puff of smoke could be seen on the left side of the screen that indicated where the gunshot came from.
The video showed Arbery and Travis McMichael veered back into the frame, still engaged in a struggle over the gun, and then there was a third gunshot.
Arbery took a couple steps away from Travis McMichael and collapsed face-first in the middle of the street, the video showed.
None of the three men involved in Arbery’s death were arrested at the scene, nor in the several months that immediately followed.
Two Glynn County commissioners revealed in May of last year that now-former Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson’s office refused to allow police to arrest the McMichaels shortly after the Feb. 23, 2020 shooting death of Arbery, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“The police at the scene went to her, saying they were ready to arrest both of them,” Glynn County Commissioner Allen Booker said. “These were the police at the scene who had done the investigation. She shut them down to protect her friend McMichael.”
The elder McMichael had been an investigator in Johnson’s office for several years prior to his recent retirement.
Eventually Johnson recused herself and the case bounced from prosecutor to prosecutor due to conflicts of interest for months before Bryan released the video of the shooting which inspired protests and resulted in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) taking over the investigation.
GBI announced the arrests of the McMichaels for murder less than three days after they took over the case and Bryan was also arrested on murder charges soon after.
In September of 2021, Johnson was indicted on charges of obstruction of a peace officer and violation of oath of a public officer in connection with her actions in the aftermath of the shooting.
The McMichaels and Bryan went to trial in November of 2021 and a Glynn County jury deliberated for 11 hours before finding Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and Bryan all guilty of murdering Arbery as he jogged through their neighborhood on Feb. 23, 2020.
The jury found Travis McMichael, who wielded the gun and shot the 25-year-old Arbery multiple times during a struggle, guilty of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit a felony, CNN reported.
His father, Gregory McMichael, and Bryan were found guilty of multiple counts of felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit a felony, but only Travis McMichael was convicted of malice murder, CNN reported.