Judge Timothy Walmsley handed down the sentencing today for the three men convicted of felony murder in the death of Ahmaud Arbery. Walmsley sentenced Travis McMichael life without parole plush twenty years, Greg McMichael life without parole plus twenty years, and Roddy Bryan life with the possibility of parole.
A meeting was held in the judge’s chambers before the arguments began.
Before the sentencing attorneys advocated for their clients and Arbery's parents gave impassioned speeches, recommending the men not be granted the possibility of parole. Roddy Bryan's attorney Kevin Gough argued that since his client was found not guilty on one count of felony murder, the other murder convictions should not be allowed to stand, citing prohibitions against placing citizens in double jeopardy. The motion was swiftly denied.
After the state made their recommendations for sentencing, Mr. Marcus Arbery spoke. Calling the episode "a hard time for me and my family," Arbery said he prayed that no one in the courtroom should have to know the pain he'd endured. Arbery said that his son's "killers should spend the rest of their lives" behind bars.
Jasmine Arbery, Ahmaud Arbery's sister spoke next, describing her brother. She implied that Arbery was pursued and shot because he was black and athletic. She went on to say that "the loss of Ahmaud has devastated me and my family," and asked the court to impose the maximum sentence.
Arbery's mother Wanda Cooper-Jones gave a tearful speech to the judge and also asked for the maximum sentence. She said her family would miss Arbery's "jokes, his impersonations, his warm smile" and that Arbery "just wanted to be left alone."
After the state appeared again to wrap up their recommendation of life without parole for Travis McMichael and life with the possibility of parole for Greg McMichael and Roddy Bryan, the defense appeared before the judge.
Bob Rubin, attorney for Travis McMichael, pointed out that the judge had leeway on sentencing and could differentiate amongst defendants. He asked that the harshest possible sentence be reserved for "the worst of the worst," and not his client. He described a sense of fear experienced in the Satilla Shores neighborhood over a series of crimes in the neighborhood and pointed out that while the younger McMichael has been judged to have committed a felony, that was not his intention and that he deserves a chance at redemption.
Attorneys for Greg McMichael cited McMichael’s age and asked that he not be judged based on one act on one day of his sixty-six years.
Gough argued for Roddy Bryan to be given the opportunity for parole, arguing further that Bryan’s cooperation merited him the chance to be paroled before the 30-year minimum of a life sentence under the first offender statute.
The state closed making their arguments that Roddy Bryan should be given life with the possibility of parole, while the two McMichaels should receive life without the possibility of parole.
Before handing down the verdict, Judge Walmsley gave a speech bemoaning the loss of Arbery’s life and even held a minute of silence to represent a fraction of the time Ahmaud Arbery was in the Satilla Shores neighborhood on the day he was shot.