The mother of Ahmaud Arbery, Wanda Cooper-Jones, thanked the attorneys and supporters before heading into the courtroom Friday morning for the sentencing hearing of the three men convicted of murdering her son.
“The day that my family and I have prayed for has finally come, so thank you,” Cooper-Jones said at a news conference before heading into the courthouse.
Judge Timothy Walmsley listened to arguments from the prosecution and defense before handing down his sentences for the three men.
Travis McMichael was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for malice murder plus 20 years for aggravated assault to be served consecutively.
Gregory McMichael was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for felony murder plus 20 years for aggravated assault to be served consecutively.
William “Roddie” Bryan was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole for felony murder.
“As we all know, Ahmaud Arbery was murdered,” Said Judge Walmsley before he handed down the sentence. “It was a tragedy on many, many levels.”
Mother of Ahmaud Arbery shows mercy, reconsiders death penalty option
Murder is punishable by death in the state of Georgia, though the prosecution sought life without the possibility of parole for the three men. According to Georgia law, even if Judge Walmsley permits parole, it won’t be considered for 30 years.
Cooper-Jones initially wanted the death penalty for the three men, but didn’t press the prosecution to seek that option once the trial began.
It was reported that on the morning of sentencing, the three men offered to plead guilty to federal hate crimes charges and serve 30 years in the federal penitentiary. Ahmaud’s family and attorneys were consulted and declined the offer.
Ahmaud’s family all gave victim impact statements at the sentencing. His mother, father, and sister all gave emotional testimony asking the judge to impose the maximum sentence available.
“These men deserve the maximum sentence for their crimes,” Cooper-Jones said in her statement. “You’re honor, I’m standing here before you as the mother of Ahmaud, asking you to please give the maximum sentence to the three men who murdered my son, which is life without the possibility of parole.”
The prosecution pointed out that two of the three men served as law enforcement and in the military, so “they should have known better”.
The three men still face a federal hate crimes trial where racist evidence from the men’s past will be made public.