Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael, and William Bryan have been given life sentences. The McMichaels were sentenced to life in prison without parole while Bryan was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole, NBC News reports.
The life sentences alone were expected, as Georgia state law makes such a sentence mandatory for murder unless the death penalty is sought. Thus, Friday’s hearing—which also included testimony from Arbery family members—was largely focused on whether parole options would be included in the sentences.
“I want to first speak directly to my son,” Wanda Cooper-Jones, Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, said during Friday’s hearing. “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 I did the day that you were born. Raising you was the honor of my life and I’m very proud of you.”
Per the Associated Press, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski asked Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley during Friday’s hearing for life without parole for the McMichaels, with the possibility of parole for Bryan.
All three men were found guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment in November. Arbery, who was 25 years old and Black, was unarmed when he was pursued and murdered by the men in the Satilla Shores neighborhood in February 2020.
“After nearly two years of pain, suffering, and wondering if Ahmaud’s killers would be held to account, the Arbery family finally has some justice,” civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who works with the Arbery family, said when reacting to November’s convictions. “Nothing will bring back Ahmaud, but his family will have some peace knowing the men who killed him will remain behind bars and can never inflict their brand of evil on another innocent soul.”
This February, the three men will face a separate trial over federal hate crime charges. Bryan and the McMichaels—as announced in April 2021—were each charged with one count of interference with right and one count of attempted kidnapping. Travis and Gregory McMichael, meanwhile, were also charged with using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.