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Ahmaud Arbery's killers get life sentences; no possibility of parole for Travis and Gregory McMichael

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Men convicted in Arbery murder sentenced to life
Men convicted in Arbery murder sentenced to l... 03:13

The three men convicted in Ahmaud Arbery's murder were sentenced Friday to life in prison. Travis McMichael, 35, and his father Gregory McMichael, 66, were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

Their neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan, 52, will have to serve 30 years of his life sentence before he's eligible for parole. The three men, all of whom are White, were convicted in November for the killing of Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, in Georgia in February 2020.

Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley noted how the McMichaels went after Arbery after Gregory McMichael saw him running in a street and said, "Let's go." The judge said, "Ahmaud Arbery was then hunted down and shot, and he was killed because individuals here in this courtroom took the law into their own hands."

Walmsley said Arbery was chased for roughly five minutes and "gunned down." The judge sat in silence for one minute to give a sense of that amount of time. The shooting was captured on cellphone video, which the jury viewed during the trial.

"This was a killing," Walmsley said before announcing the sentences recommended by prosecutors. "It was callous, and it occurred — as far as the court is concerned based upon the evidence — because confrontation was being sought."

Travis McMichael, William "Roddie" Bryan, and Gregory McMichael
From left: Travis McMichael, William "Roddie" Bryan, and Gregory McMichael during their trial in Brunswick, Georgia. All three were convicted for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, the Black man who was chased and fatally shot while jogging through their neighborhood. AP

During Friday's lengthy hearing, the McMichaels' attorneys asked the judge to give their clients the chance to earn parole, and Bryan's lawyer tried to persuade Walmsley to let the parole board decide when Bryan could be released.

In emotional testimony, Arbery's family asked for the defendants to receive the maximum punishment allowed.

"They each have no remorse and do not deserve any leniency," Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery's mother, told Walmsley. "This wasn't a case of mistaken identity or mistaken fact. They chose to target my son because they didn't want him in their community. They chose to treat him differently than other people who frequently visited their community, and when they couldn't sufficiently scare him or intimidate him, they killed him."

Cooper-Jones and Marcus Arbery, Arbery's father, were seen crying in the courtroom when the sentences were announced.

Ahmaud Arbery Georgia Trial
Ahmaud Arbery's mother Wanda Cooper-Jones, center, speaks with supporters after the sentencing of Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan, at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia, Jan. 7, 2022. AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool

During the trial, prosecutors said Arbery was out running when the men chased him through the neighborhood, eventually boxing him in with their trucks before Travis McMichael fired the fatal shots. The defense team argued the men believed Arbery was a burglary suspect and claimed they acted in self defense.

The jurors spent just 10 hours deliberating before finding Travis McMichael guilty on all counts, including malice murder, felony murder and aggravated assault. Gregory McMichael and Bryan were not convicted of malice murder, but were found guilty of felony murder and other charges.

Ahmaud Arbery's killers get life in prison 10:24

The McMichaels and Bryan are also facing federal hate crime charges. A separate trial in the federal case is scheduled to begin on February 7.

Earlier this week, the Department of Justice approached Cooper-Jones about a plea deal that would have the McMichaels spend 30 years in prison if they admit that what they did was motivated by hate, according to Arbery family lawyer Lee Merritt.

Cooper-Jones told "CBS Mornings" on Friday she rejected the deal because she wants the men to stand trial in court for those charges.

"I think that the federal charges are just as important as the state charges and I think that they need to stand trial for those charges as well," Cooper-Jones said. 

Arbery family: McMichaels asked for plea deal... 05:26

Clare Hymes contributed reporting.

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