Three men sentenced to life in the 2020 murder of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery

A jury consisting of twelve people; eight White people, three Black people, and one Hispanic deliberated for less than four hours, determining that when 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was killed by Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William Bryan, it was nothing else but racially motivated. The three men are guilty of the murder of Arbery and are to be sentenced to life. Travis and Gregory McMichael have a life sentence with no possibility of parole while their neighbor William Bryan must serve at least 30 years in which he will be eligible for parole.

Federal prosecutors presented an overwhelming amount of evidence of the defendants’ racism and heinous language, it left some jurors in tears and some visibly shaking. A video was shown of Arbery helplessly gasping for air in the middle of the road. Evidence that was used during the trial included texts and social media messages from two of the defendants. “They ruin everything. That’s why I love what I do now. Not a n***er in sight” McMichael said in a text message. The social media post that Travis McMichael commented on suggested shooting up a group of black people. Prosecutors presented a video that Travis McMichael had made in which he described his plan. The video showed a “No Trespassing” sign on a property, McMichael proceeded to knock down the sign. A few months after he then called the police saying Mr. Arbery was trespassing at a house under construction.

In addition to the hate crimes the three men were convicted with, the jury also found them guilty of attempted kidnapping and found the McMichaels both guilty of one count each of

brandishing or discharging a firearm during a violent crime. The men now not only have this life sentence but on top of that have the charges they received in court in November of 2021. The federal convictions ensure that these men will receive a significant time in prison even if their state convictions either get overturned or their sentences get reduced on appeal. Prosecutors had originally made plea agreements with Travis and Gregory McMichael, which would have sent them to federal prison for 30 years. However, Arbery’s family protested those deals because it would have allowed them to serve in a federal prison rather than a state prison. They argued that these men should not have the choice to decide their prison options. Judge Lisa Godbey Wood ended up rejecting the agreements allowing the trial to progress forward. “At the end of the day, the evidence in this case will prove that if Ahmaud Arbery had been white, he would have gone for a jog, checked out a house under construction, and been home in time for Sunday supper,” Said Bobbi Bernstein, a Justice Department lawyer. “Instead he went out for a jog, and he ended up running for his life. Instead, he ended up bleeding to death, alone and scared, in the middle of the street.”

This Georgia case is now being held up for being a victory for racial justice. It is being stood out for forcing a straightforward and thorough examination of the racism presented in court. “As a mother, I will never heal,” Arbery’s mother said. “They gave us a small sense of victory, but we will never get victory because Ahmaud is dead.”

The verdict made in this case, “Makes clear that the Justice Department will continue to use every resource at its disposal to confront unlawful acts of hate and to hold accountable those who perpetrate them.” Said Attorney General Merrik B. Garland at a news conference.

On February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery was jogging in Satilla Shores when Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael, and William Bryan chased Mr.Arbery down the street and shot him. In Georgia, February 23 is now Ahmaud Arbery Day. According to The New York Times, Lawmakers have called Mr. Arbery one of the states “most distinguished citizens”.

Story By: Hannah Trollope '22