The three already are serving life sentences after being convicted of murder in a state trial last November, with only Bryan given the possibility of parole. All three then were convicted in February of federal charges of violating Mr Arbery’s civil rights by attacking him because of his race and of attempted kidnapping, with the McMichaels also found guilty of a firearms charge.
Gregory McMichael, left, and his son Travis McMichael are already serving life sentences after being found guilty in a state trial for the 2020 murder of Ahmaud Arbery. Credit: Glynn County Detention Center
They were sentenced on the federal charges in separate hearings on Monday by US District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood. In handing down the younger McMichael’s sentence first, Ms Wood said widely seen cellphone video of him shooting Mr Arbery, 25, at close range with a shotgun was seared into her memory.
“The loss that you’ve endured is beyond description,” he said as some of Mr Arbery’s relatives wiped away tears in a crowded courtroom that included civil rights leader Jesse Jackson. “I’m sure that my words mean very little to you, but I want to assure you I never wanted any of this to happen. There was no malice in my heart or my son’s heart that day.”
Bryan later told the court: “I’m glad to finally have the chance to say to Arbery’s family and friends how sorry I am for what happened to him on that day.”
Mr Arbery’s case is one in a series of killings of black people in recent years that have drawn attention to the issue of racism in the US criminal justice system and law enforcement. It also highlighted the broader issue of US gun violence.
The video emerged months later, prompting anti-racism protests in many US cities because the three men had not been arrested after a local prosecutor concluded the killing was justified.
“This case involves at least in part concerns of vigilante justice,” she told the court. “I realise the rich irony, judge, in expressing my concern that my client will face vigilante justice himself.”
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