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Travis and gregory mcmichael charges, married children kids family

Travis and gregory mcmichael charges, married children kids family
On the day in November when the McMichaels and Mr. Bryan were found guilty, supporters staged a vigil for Mr. Arbery.
Three Men Convicted of Arbery Murder Sentenced to Life in Prison

After 30 years, one man will be eligible for parole. The three are scheduled to stand trial in federal court next month on hate crime accusations.

On Friday, a Georgia judge sentenced Travis McMichael, the man who fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery, and his father to life in prison without the possibility of parole, but gave a lesser sentence of life with the possibility of parole to the other white man convicted of murdering Mr. Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man whom they pursued through their neighborhood.

Travis McMichael, 35; his father, Gregory McMichael, 66; and their neighbor, William Bryan, 52 — were convicted in November of murder and other charges, resulting in mandatory life terms. The primary issue before Judge Timothy R. Walmsley on Friday was whether the killers of Mr. Arbery should be eligible for parole after 30 years, the earliest feasible time period under Georgia law for such felons.

Linda Dunikoski, the main prosecutor, sought the judge to deny the McMichaels parole, noting that they had a dangerous history of "vigilantism" prior to the death. She recalled that the elder Mr. McMichael had referred to Mr. Arbery as a "asshole" as his body lay in the street, prompting a response from police. "Neither man has expressed regret or, more importantly, empathy," she stated.

Ahmaud Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones, center, walks out of the Glynn County Courthouse surrounded by supporters.
Ahmaud Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones, center, walks out of the Glynn County Courthouse surrounded by supporters.
Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed while jogging in February 2020.
Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed while jogging in February 2020.

Mr. Bryan, she stated, should be eligible for parole in part due to his cooperation with investigators.

Judge Walmsley noted before imposing the penalties that Mr. Arbery had been pursued for approximately five minutes while fleeing the men on foot. To underscore the passage of time and the dread Mr. Arbery must have felt, the judge paused for one minute and allowed quiet to fill the chamber.

According to Judge Walmsley, the case should cause individuals to reflect on what it means to be a good neighbor. "By assuming the worst in others, we demonstrate our own worst characteristics," he explained.

Judge Walmsley's judgment, delivered in the same Brunswick, Ga., courthouse where the racially charged trial unfolded, marked a watershed moment in a tale that consumed a small coastal village, and eventually the entire country. For weeks following the killing, the three men roamed free after a prosecutor urged police not to arrest them because they were covered by the state's citizen's arrest legislation — and because the shooting was a lawful act of self-defense.

The judge's ruling on Friday concluded a major chapter in the case against the individuals who murdered Mr. Arbery on a Sunday afternoon in February 2020 at a house under construction in the suburban town of Satilla Shores. Three men in a pair of vehicles pursued him, suspecting him of property crimes in the region.

Ahmaud Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones leaves after Ahmaud’s killers were sentenced.
Ahmaud Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones leaves after Ahmaud’s killers were sentenced.
Ahmaud Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones, center, reacts as Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley sentences Greg McMichael, his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse.
Ahmaud Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones, center, reacts as Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley sentences Greg McMichael, his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse.

Mr. Arbery's pursuit came to a stop when he collided physically with Travis McMichael, who shot Mr. Arbery three times at close range with a shotgun. Mr. Bryan filmed the murder on his cellphone camera, and the footage, which was widely distributed online, sparked global indignation.

Mr. Arbery's family members delivered a succession of heartbreaking speeches to the judge on Friday, asking that the men should receive the harshest sentences available. Mr. Arbery's sister, Jasmine Arbery, stated that the guys mistook him for a "threatening criminal" due to his dark coloring and curly hair.

Mr. Arbery was an avid jogger, and according to his family, he jogged into the area on the day of his death. "Not only did they lynch my son in broad daylight," his father, Marcus Arbery Sr., told the court, "but they killed him while he was doing what he loved most: running."

Ahmaud Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, reported that her son never talked to his pursuers during the hunt. "He never addressed them, never threatened them — he simply desired to be left alone," she explained. "They were zealous in their pursuit of their misdeeds. Allow them to bear full responsibility for their actions."

The case is very certainly going to the Georgia Supreme Court for review. However, in an interview last week, Ms. Cooper-Jones stated that she was bracing for the next trial in federal court, where the three men face charges of hate crimes and attempted kidnapping, as well as the possibility of life imprisonment. Jury selection is slated to begin in that case on Feb. 7.

William “Roddie” Bryan waits for his sentencing, along with Greg McMichael and Travis McMichael, in the Glynn County Courthouse.
William “Roddie” Bryan waits for his sentencing, along with Greg McMichael and Travis McMichael, in the Glynn County Courthouse.
Ahmaud Arbery’s father Marcus Arbery reacts as Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley hands down the sentence on Ahmaud’s killers.
Ahmaud Arbery’s father Marcus Arbery reacts as Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley hands down the sentence on Ahmaud’s killers.

"Every day, I'll be there," she stated. "They must also respond to those charges."

Ms. Cooper-Jones stated that federal prosecutors had approached her and inquired about her comfort level with a plea agreement. She asserted that she advised them that she desired that the federal case proceed to trial.

Friday's parole eligibility question struck a different chord with the three guys. It was about the possibility of getting released as early as his mid-60s for Travis McMichael. However, Gregory McMichael would be in his 90s if given the opportunity to appear before a parole board. Similarly, Mr. Bryan would be in his eighties.

Travis McMichael's attorney, Robert G. Rubin, contended that his client may have acted irresponsibly but was attempting to look out for his neighbors. Mr. Rubin stated that a maximum sentence for his client would be "vengeance," and that a parole board should have the opportunity to evaluate Mr. McMichael's release.

Gregory McMichael's attorney, Laura D. Hogue, stated that he had no criminal record and had performed "thousands" of acts of charity during his life.

Mr. Bryan's attorney, Kevin Gough, stated that his client had publicly expressed regret. Mr. Gough presented what he conceded was a long-shot case to the judge that the judge should consider a sentence for Mr. Bryan that was functionally less severe than the mandatory minimum.

At trial, defense attorneys maintained that Travis McMichael shot Mr. Arbery in self-defense. Additionally, they maintained that the pursuit of Mr. Arbery was allowed under a citizen's arrest provision that Georgia lawmakers later drastically gutted.

On her way to court, Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, told CNN that she didn’t “want to hear anything” from any of her son’s killers.
On her way to court, Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, told CNN that she didn’t “want to hear anything” from any of her son’s killers.
Greg McMichael (right) and his son, Travis McMichael, look at family members seated in the gallery.
Greg McMichael (right) and his son, Travis McMichael, look at family members seated in the gallery.

Prosecutors had made clear before to the trial that they would emphasize racism in their case. However, some claims of racism were ultimately withheld from the nearly all-white jury, either for strategic reasons or due to procedural obstacles posed by the standards of evidence.

Rather than that, Ms. Dunikoski, the main prosecutor, appealed to jurors' sense of basic justice, arguing that the men broke common sense standards by taking the law into their own hands. One of the few indications of a racist purpose came during her closing statement, when she stated that Mr. Arbery was attacked "because he was a Black guy jogging down the street."

However, the allegations of racism that jurors never heard in the state case could be brought in federal court next month. They contain photographs of Travis McMichael's truck, which was emblazoned with a vanity plate depicting the old Georgia state flag, which incorporates the Confederate battle flag.

Prosecutors explored bringing further "racial" evidence, such as Facebook posts or text messages from the three males, according to court records. Prosecutors released a text message from November 2019 during a pretrial hearing in which Travis McMichael used a racist epithet about Black people while discussing the notion of shooting a "crackhead" with "gold teeth."

Mr. Bryan's attorney asked the court in late December to exclude evidence suggesting he harbored "racial animus" toward Black people, including racially insensitive text messages he sent around the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and witness testimony "that would imply Bryan did not approve of his adopted daughter dating an African American man."

William “Roddie” Bryan looks on during his trial.
William “Roddie” Bryan looks on during his trial.
A still from the damning video of Arbery’s murder.
A still from the damning video of Arbery’s murder.

Mr. Bryan told authorities that he overheard Travis McMichael use a racist epithet shortly after shooting Mr. Arbery, according to a Georgia state investigator. Mr. McMichael's attorneys reject this assertion. That accusation may be difficult to prove in court if Mr. Bryan fails to testify, depriving Travis McMichael of his constitutional right to cross-examine an opposing witness.

According to Justice Department statistics, almost 90% of defendants charged with hate crimes in federal district court between 2005 and 2019 were convicted. However, Page Pate, a Georgia lawyer and legal expert, believes that this trial may prove difficult for prosecutors. He stated that racist words alone would not be sufficient to achieve a conviction.

"Proving someone is a racist does not automatically constitute it a hate crime," he explained. "You must establish that the crime was motivated by those emotions."

Along with hate crimes, the three men are charged in an April federal indictment with attempted kidnapping. Both McMichaels armed themselves prior to pursuing Mr. Arbery, and both face charges of firearm use in the commission of a violent felony.

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