Judge Timothy Walmsley sentenced Travis McMichael and Gregory McMichael to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He sentenced Bryan to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Bryan, who is 52 years old, will be eligible for parole under Georgia law only after he has served 30 years in prison because he was convicted of serious violent felonies.
Before handing down the sentence, Walmsley described the killing in a neighborhood outside Brunswick, Georgia, as a “chilling, truly disturbing scene,” telling the court he “kept coming back to the terror that must have been in the mind of the young man running through Satilla Shores.”
Arbery’s mother and father cried as the sentences were handed down, according to a pool reporter present. Gregory McMichael leaned back in his chair and appeared visibly shaken, the reporter added, after his son was sentenced.
Earlier that morning, Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones delivered a victim impact statement aimed at achieving a stiffer sentence, asking the judge to impose the maximum sentence.
“I made a promise to you the day I laid you to rest,” she said, speaking directly to her late son. “I told you I love you, and someday, somehow, I would get you justice.”
“Son, I love you as much today as I did the day you were born. Raising you was the honor of my life, and I’m very proud of you.”
The judge imposed additional prison time for each of the defendants for other felony charges. For the McMichaels, that additional time will be served concurrent to each other but consecutive to the life sentence, Walmsley ruled. As a result, both face total sentences of life without parole plus 20 years.
For Bryan, Walmsley imposed additional imprisonment sentences of 10 years for his false imprisonment conviction and 5 years for his criminal attempt to commit a felony conviction. Unlike the sentence for the McMichaels, the additional sentence for Bryan totaling 15 years will be suspended, resulting in a total sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole.
In his own statement, Marcus Arbery Sr., Arbery’s father, noted Travis McMichael had been able to sit in the courtroom with his father every day — something Arbery Sr. will never do again.
“I’ll never get that chance to sit next to my son ever again. Not at a dinner table, not at a holiday,” he said Friday.
“My heart is broken, and always will be broken,” he said. “If I could I’d have (traded) places with Ahmaud in a heartbeat. But I can’t. So I’m standing here today to do what he can’t, and that is to fight for him, fight for his memory, his legacy, and to tell you who he was.”
The sprawling legal saga isn’t over: The men’s attorneys say they’ll appeal the verdicts; a federal hate crime trial is slated for next month; Arbery’s mother has filed a civil lawsuit; and the original prosecutor faces charges over her alleged handling of the case.
Defendants face decades in prison
Prior to the sentencing, the judge heard from both prosecutors and defense attorneys, who argued for leniency for their clients.
Attorney Robert Rubin characterized Travis McMichael as a “devoted father” and “hard worker” who thought he was doing the right thing for his…