Life in prison for three white men for “hunting” and killing an African American in the US

Three white men have been sentenced this Saturday to life imprisonment for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a young African American who was “hunted” and killed with a shotgun while running in 2020 through a neighborhood in the city of Brunswick (Georgia, USA). , in one case that sparked a wave of outrage and protests.

Gregory McMichael, 66; his son Travis, 35, and his neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, could still face the death penalty if found guilty in a new trial that they must face, this time in federal court, to answer for charges. hate crimes for killing Arbery because he was black.

Glynn County Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley has sentenced the McMichaels to life in prison without the possibility of parole, while Bryan has been given the same sentence but with the opportunity to go free under word once you serve at least 30 years of your sentence. “Ahmaud Arbery went for a run and ended up running for his life,” said the magistrate, who observed a minute of silence to commemorate the “cruel” murder of the young man.

A majority white jury

The McMichaels and Bryans were found guilty on November 24 of last year, after the jury, made up of eleven whites and a single African American, deliberated for ten hours, in a trial in which thirty witnesses appeared to testify. over the course of almost two weeks.

During the sentencing hearing on Friday, the victim’s parents implored the judge that those guilty of the murder of their son remain in prison for the rest of their lives. “When I close my eyes, I see his execution in my mind, over and over again. I am going to watch this for the rest of my life,” said Marcus Arbery, the young man’s father.

“Ahmaud never said a word to them, he never threatened them, he just wanted them to leave him alone. (The murderers) were completely committed to their crimes. That they fully commit to the consequences,” asked Wanda Cooper-Jones, the mother. de Arbery, visibly shaken. On the outskirts of the Glynn court, a group of people, the majority African American, has celebrated the sentence in the middle of a strong police deployment.

The video of death

Arbery’s death, which occurred on February 23, 2020, went unnoticed for several months, until at the beginning of May a video that Bryan recorded with his cell phone leaked online showing when the young man was intercepted by the McMichael, who After chasing him and cornering him in his truck, they shot him point-blank with a shotgun.

The investigation then passed into the hands of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), which within days ordered the arrest of the three men, one of whom – Gregory McMichael – was a former Glynn County police officer and an investigator for the Office of the Police. Prosecutor’s Office in the locality.

Before issuing its verdict, the jury asked the judge to show the video of the death again, which became a key piece of evidence during the trial, and also asked to hear the call to the 911 emergency number that the defendants made.

During the trial, the defense argued that the defendants were trying to make a citizen arrest on suspicion that the young man was a thief, since on numerous occasions they claim that they had seen him frequenting a house under construction in the Satilla Shores neighborhood.

Travis McMichael testified that he shot Arbery in self-defense after he allegedly attacked him with his fists when confronting him. The state attorney’s office, however, proved that the 25-year-old never committed any crime and that he was murdered by the McMichaels and Bryans “not because he was a threat to them, but because he did not stop to talk to them.”

Presenting her closing arguments, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said that for the citizen’s arrest to have been legal, the person attempting to execute it must have witnessed a crime, something that never happened.

New law

Arbery’s death prompted the Georgia Legislature to pass a measure criminalizing hate crimes in the state, a bipartisan initiative that was enacted by the governor, Republican Brian Kemp, who hailed it as a “sign of progress.” .

Although the new law could not be applied in this trial, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office did present the charges in the new trial that the three inmates will face as of February 7, when the jury selection is scheduled to begin.

Arbery’s case joined several others that sparked a wave of outrage and protests in the summer of 2020, including that of the young African-American Rayshard Brooks, who died after being shot by a white police officer in Atlanta, and that of George Floyd. in Minneapolis, Minnesota, died after being arrested by a white officer.

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