Ahmaud Arbery hate crimes trial brings life sentence

Race in America

This photo combo shows, from left, Travis McMichael, William “Roddie” Bryan, and Gregory McMichael during their trial at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga. The men were convicted of murder in November 2021 for chasing Ahmaud Arbery in pickup trucks when he was out for a jog, cutting off the Black man’s escape and fatally blasting him with a shotgun. (Pool, file via AP)

SAVANNAH, Ga. (NewsNation) — Travis McMichael, the man who shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery, was sentenced to life in prison for committing federal hate crimes.

Travis, his father Greg McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan were found guilty of murder in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery last fall. Greg McMichael was also sentenced to life in prison Monday afternoon. Bryan still faces a second round of sentencing Monday for federal hate crimes he was convicted of in February.

A jury found all three defendants guilty of hate crimes back in February for violating Arbery’s civil rights and for chasing him because he was Black.

Arbery was out jogging in a Georgia neighborhood when the three men chased him down the street in a pickup truck with shotguns. The defense attorneys argued the McMichaels and Bryan did not pursue Arbery because of his race, but rather they believed Arbery matched the description of someone who had been caught on camera at a home under construction in the neighborhood.

During the hate crimes trial in February, prosecutors fortified their case that Arbery’s killing was motivated by racism, showing the jury roughly two dozen text messages and social media posts in which Travis McMichael and Bryan used racist slurs and made disparaging comments about Black people.

A woman testified to hearing an angry rant from Greg McMichael in 2015 in which he said: “All those Blacks are nothing but trouble.”

U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood scheduled back-to-back hearings Monday to individually sentence each of the defendants, despite the three men already serving life sentences for their murder convictions.

Arbery was killed on Feb. 23, 2020, amid a larger national reckoning over racial injustice and killings of unarmed Black people, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Both cases resulted in federal charges.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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