BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WSAV) — More jail time is on the way for the three men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, this time in federal prison for hate crimes.
In February, a federal jury found Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan guilty of chasing and killing Arbery because of his race.
On Monday, Travis McMichael was sentenced to life in federal prison with an additional 10 years. His father, Greg, will also serve a life sentence plus seven years. William “Roddie” Bryan will do 35 years in federal prison.
The men will now be transferred to state prison to serve life sentences for murder, where the McMichaels have no option for parole, but Bryan does.
Judge Lisa Godbey Wood denied motions to keep the three men in federal custody. Travis McMichael’s attorney alleges he has received hundreds, if not thousands, of death threats and that his photo is circulating state prison. Greg’s attorney argued he is not well enough to survive in state prison conditions.
“We are extremely pleased that the court decided to follow the law, follow those sentencing guidelines and administer a federal sentence of life,” said Lee Merritt, attorney for the Arbery family, referencing the sentence for Travis.
It was an emotional day in court for the Arbery family, who were able to address the men who murdered their loved one.
“Ahmaud wasn’t only shot one time, he was shot three times,” Wanda-Cooper Jones, Ahmaud’s mother, said. “And I tell you, I feel every shot every day that I wake up.”
Ahmaud’s parents, aunts and uncle all spoke in court, highlighting the trauma they’ve endured since the 25-year-old’s death in February 2020.
Speaking for her nephew, Diane Jackson said, “you killed me but my voice still lives on.”
Other family members told the McMichaels and Bryan they failed their families and deserve the punishment they got.
Greg McMichael and Bryan offered apologies to the Arbery’s, saying they never meant any harm and wish Ahmaud’s death never happened. Travis chose not to speak during his hearing.
It was hard to look at them every day as a father,” Marcus Arbery said. “And they showed no remorse for how they took his life. That’s the thing that really bothers me real bad.”
Supporters of Arbery who have been there since the beginning joined them for the end of the trial, remarking on the significance of the case.
“This madness must end,” said Rev. Jesse Jackson. “This is the beginning of a new south in many ways.”
The Arbery family said this is just the beginning. They still are looking to hold former district attorney Jackie Johnson accountable, who’s been indicted for charges alleging she used her position to help the McMichaels.
While the Arberys say Ahmaud’s death has broken their heart into pieces they can never fix, they walked away Monday with a sense of justice for the man they love.
“I know that Ahmaud is pleased with the work we’ve done as a community,” Wanda said. “As we heal together as a family I know he’s in heaven, he’s pleased and with that being said, I’m pleased as well.”
The McMichaels and Bryan have two weeks to repeal their sentences, if they choose.