The Georgia father and son who thought a young Black man who was jogging through their neighborhood was a burglar and chased, then shot him dead will now spend their lives behind bars for their crime.
Travis McMichael, the man who fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery, and his father, Greg McMichael, were both given a federal sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for the Feb. 23, 2020 killing.
William "Roddie" Bryan, the man who recorded cellphone video of Arbery's murder, was sentenced to 35 years in federal prison for his role in the fatal chase.
CBS News reported that the federal hate crimes sentences were handed down months after each of the three men had already been sentenced to life in prison for murder in state court. They were convicted on state charges of murder last November, and on federal charges in February. The appeals process for the McMichaels and Bryan on the federal conviction began in March.
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Arbery, 25, was out for a run through the Georgia neighborhood where his killers lived. But suspicious that he was stealing from empty properties, the McMichaels armed themselves with guns and jumped in a truck to chase Arbery after spotting him running past their home. Bryan joined the pursuit in his own truck, helping to cut off potential escape routes for Arbery.
He also recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael shooting the young man at close range. Despite the pursuers’ allegations they thought Arbery was a burglar, authorities ruled he was unarmed and had committed no crimes.
In a recent court filing, Travis and Greg McMichael requested the judge to divert them from state prison to a federal prison, claiming they wouldn't be safe in a Georgia prison system that is the subject of a U.S. Justice Department investigation concerning violence between inmates.
Arbery's family has argued that a federal penitentiary wouldn't be as tough, and that the McMichaels and Bryan should serve their sentences in a state prison.
During the February hate crimes trial, prosecutors demonstrated their claim that Arbery was killed because of racism by displaying for the jury dozens of text messages and social media posts in which Travis McMichael and Bryan used racist slurs and made hateful comments about Black people. A woman testified she heard Greg McMichael ranting in 2015 that: "All those Blacks are nothing but trouble."
The Associated Press reported that in social media posts going back years, Travis McMichael frequently mentioned violence against Black people. In December 2018, he commented on a Facebook video of a Black man playing a prank on a white person: “I’d kill that f—-ing n—-r.”
And in June 2017, he shared a TV news story about a violent confrontation between two white women and two Black customers upset about cold food at a Georgia restaurant, using a racial slur to comment that he would beat the Black people “to death if they did that to (name redacted by the FBI) or my mother and sister.” He added that he would have no more remorse than putting down a rabid animal.