A judge sentenced a white father and son to life in prison and their neighbor to 35 years for a federal hate crime in the 2020 murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man shot after jogging in a suburban Georgia neighborhood. Travis McMichael, 36, a former U.S. Coast Guard mechanic, his father Gregory McMichael, a 66-year-old former county police officer who later worked for the local prosecutor's office, and William "Roddie" Bryan, a 52-year-old mechanic, were sentenced in Brunswick, Reuters reports. The three already are serving life sentences after being convicted of murder in a state trial last November. All three were convicted in February of federal charges of violating Arbery's civil rights by attacking him because of his race and of attempted kidnapping.
Gregory McMichael, speaking to the court before he was sentenced, told Arbery's family, "The loss that you've endured is beyond description." Some of Arbery's relatives wiped away tears in a courtroom crowded with spectators who included civil rights leader Jesse Jackson. "I'm sure that my words mean very little to you, but I want to assure you I never wanted any of this to happen," Gregory McMichael said. "There was no malice in my heart or my son's heart that day." He apologized to his son, who declined to testify, and to his wife, who began sobbing. He did not explicitly apologize to Arbery's family. Bryan said, "I'm glad to finally have the chance to say to Arbery's family and friends how sorry I am for what happened to him on that day." The judge said Bryan deserved a shorter sentence than the McMichaels because he did not bring a gun to the chase. The three sought to be transferred out of the state prison system into a federal prison they perceived as safer. The rules require that they return to the state prison system, where they are serving life sentences.