Ahmaud Arbery’s murderers have been sentenced on federal hate crime charges in his violent death. Travis McMichael, 36, was the first to receive a life sentence plus 10 years in prison. The Associated Press reported U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood ruled McMichael is required to serve his time in state prison and not federal prison as requested by his attorney Amy Copeland.
Copeland claimed the convicted killer had received death threats and was not safe in state prison as his photo had allegedly been circulated on illegally smuggled phones.
“I am concerned, your honor, that my client effectively faces a back-door death penalty,” said Copeland. Judge Wood reportedly replied neither she didn’t have the authority to send him to the Federal Bureau of Prisons nor was she inclined to.
Travis McMichael’s 66-year-old father, Gregory McMichael, was also sentenced to life in prison for the federal hate crime charge plus seven years. According to USA Today, both are set to serve the federal sentences concurrently with the state time.
“I’m sure my words mean very little to you, but I want to assure you, I never wanted any of this to happen,” said McMichaels to Arbery’s family when addressing the court. “There was no malice in my heart or my son’s heart that day.”
William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, received 35 years for his federal hate crime conviction.
“I would like to say to Mr. Ahmaud Arbery’s family and friends how sorry I am for what happened to him on that day,” Bryan said in court, according to ABC News. “I never intended any harm to him, and never would’ve played any role if I knew then what I know now.”
Arbery, 25, was gunned down in February 2020 by the McMichaels and Bryan while jogging through a Georgia neighborhood. The violent ordeal was captured on a cell phone by Bryan, and the leaked footage sparked nationwide outrage and protests.
Both McMichael men and Bryan were found guilty in February of federal hate crimes for violating Arbery’s civil rights and targeting him because he was Black. The McMichaels were additionally found guilty of the use of a firearm in the commission of a violent crime.
In November 2021, the trio was convicted of the murder of Arbery and sentenced to life in prison, with only Bryan eligible for parole after serving at least 30 years. All three men have remained in custody in Glynn County in the custody of U.S. marshals.
“We commend the courage and bravery of this jury to say that what happened on Feb. 23, 2020, to Ahmaud Arbery—the hunting and killing of Ahmaud Arbery—it was not only morally wrong but legally wrong, and we are thankful for that,” Latonia Hines, Cobb County Executive Assistant District Attorney, said at the time of the conviction.