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United States: the three men who persecuted and killed the black runner Ahmaud Arbery sentenced to life

Three white men who had been convicted of murder for hunting down and killing Ahmaud Arbery were sentenced to life imprisonment on Friday. The judge denied any possibility of parole for the father and son who armed themselves and began the deadly pursuit of the 25-year-old black man, shot to death in February 2020.

The murder carries a mandatory life sentence under Georgia law, unless prosecutors seek the death penalty, something they chose not to do in this case, reports the AP agency.

For Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley, the main decision was to grant Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, a possible shot at parole.

The judge ordered the McMichaels to serve life in prison without parole. Bryan was granted the ability to access that benefit, but you must first serve at least 30 years in prison.

Ahmaud Arbery’s relatives celebrate the sentence. AP Photo

Walmsley said Arbery left his house for a jog and finished running for his life for five minutes, while the men chased him in vans until they finally cornered him.

“Ahmaud Arbery was hunted down and shot, and he was killed because some individuals here in the courtroom took justice for themselves,” the judge declared.

Before passing sentence, Walmsley paused for a minute of silence to help gauge what those five minutes must have been for Arbery.

“When I thought about this, I did it from many different angles. I kept thinking about how terrified the young man running through Satilla Shores must have been,” he said, mentioning the suburb of the port city of Brunswick where Arbery was. murdered.

One image recalls 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, killed after a manhunt.  AFP photo

One image recalls 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, killed after a manhunt. AFP photo

During the sentencing hearing, Arbery’s family had asked the judge not to show leniency.

Arbery’s sister recalled his humor, describing him as someone positive with a great personality. He told the judge that his brother had dark skin “that glowed in the sunlight”, thick curly hair and an athletic complexion, factors that made him a target for the men who were after him.

“These are the qualities that made these men assume that Ahmaud was a dangerous criminal and hunted him down with their weapons drawn. For me, those qualities reflect a young man full of life and energy who looked like me and the people I loved. ” Jasmine Arbery said.

Arbery’s mother said she suffered an intense personal loss that was made worse by a trial in which the men’s defense was that Arbery made poor decisions that led to his death.

“This was not a case of identity confusion … They chose to attack my son because they did not want him in their community. They decided to treat him differently from other people who frequently visited their community, ” Wanda Cooper-Jones said. “And when they couldn’t scare or intimidate him enough, they killed him. ”

The judge’s sentences coincided with the recommendation of the prosecutor Linda Dunikoski. He said everyone deserved that mandatory life sentence for showing “no empathy for the trapped and terrified Ahmaud Arbery.”

Robert Rubin, one of Travis McMichael’s defense attorneys, argued that his client, 35, deserved the possibility of parole. He said Travis McMichael opened fire only after “Mr. Arbery approached him and took the gun.” But Rubin also acknowledged that his client’s decisions to arm himself and go after Arbery were “reckless” and “thoughtless.” ‘.

“They are not evidence of a soul so blackened as to deserve to spend the rest of his life in prison.”Rubin said. “This was not a planned murder. This was a fight over a weapon that led to the death of Mr. Arbery.”

Greg McMichael’s attorney, Laura Hogue, said her client did not intend for Arbery to die, and that she never drew her gun until her son fired his shotgun.

“Greg McMichael did not leave his house that day with the intent to kill, ” Hogue told the judge.” He did not see his son firing that shotgun with nothing but fear and sadness. What this jury found is that it was an unintentional act. ”

Bryan’s attorney said Bryan showed remorse and cooperated with police, turning over cellphone video of the shooting to help them get to the truth.

“Mr. Bryan is not the one with the gun, ” Kevin Gough said.“ He was unarmed. And I think that reflects his intentions. ”

Bryan is 52 years old, which increases the chances that he will spend the rest of his life in prison, even with the possibility of being paroled after serving 30 years.

LM

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