A judge in the US state of Georgia sentenced on Friday the three white men convicted of Ahmaud Arbery's 2020 murder to life in prison.
Judge Timothy Walmsley sentenced Gregory McMichael, and his son, Travis McMichael, to life without the possibility of parole. Their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.
The McMichaels sat in the courtroom stone-faced as Walmsley read aloud their sentences.
"This was a killing, it was callous," said Walmsley. "It occurred, as far as the court is concerned, based on the evidence, because a confrontation was being sought."
Travis McMichael, the man who fatally shot the 25-year-old Black man in the port city of Brunswick in February 2020, was found guilty by a predominantly white jury of all charges against him in November, including malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and one count each of false imprisonment and criminal contempt to commit a felony.
His father, Gregory McMichael, was found not guilty of malice murder, but was found guilty of all other charges. Their neighbor, Bryan, who joined in the pursuit and whose cellphone footage documented the tragedy, was found guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal contempt to commit a felony.
All three men still face federal hate crime charges in a trial expected to take place in early 2022.
Arbery's murder added to a growing chorus of calls for racial justice in the US after the video taken by Bryan, Jr. circulated widely on the internet, prompting widespread outrage. All three men were arrested months after the fatal confrontation that occurred while Arbery was out jogging.
Richard Dial, the lead investigator in Arbery's case, ruled out the possibility that Travis McMichael could have been acting in self-defense during testimony he gave in June, saying he believes it was Arbery who was doing so.
"Mr. Arbery was being pursued, and he ran till he couldn't run anymore," he said. "Mr. Arbery's decision was to just try to get away, and when he felt like he could not escape, he chose to fight."