Gregory and Travis McMichael, the father and son convicted in the death of Ahmaud Arbery were sentenced to life in prison Monday after federal convictions for a slew of federal charges including interference with rights, a hate crime.
CNN reports the McMichael’s neighbor, William Bryan Jr., the third man involved in Arbery’s death, received 35 years for his actions. All three are currently serving life sentences for their convictions in state court on a litany of charges related to Arbery’s death.
“My son was shot not one time, not two times, but three times,” Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones said before Travis McMichael’s sentence was given. “Your honor,” she said, “I feel every shot that was fired every day.”
Cooper-Jones and other members of Arbery’s family asked US District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood to give Travis McMichael the maximum possible sentence under federal guidelines.
The McMichaels were also sentenced to 20 years for attempted kidnapping charges and will serve the sentences concurrently. Travis McMichael received an additional 10 years for weapons charges and Gregory McMichael received an additional seven years for weapons charges. Both will serve those sentences consecutively.
“The Justice Department’s prosecution of this case and the court’s sentences today make clear that hate crimes have no place in our country, and that the Department will be unrelenting in our efforts to hold accountable those who perpetrate them,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement. “Protecting civil rights and combatting white supremacist violence was a founding purpose of the Justice Department, and one that we will continue to pursue with the urgency it demands.”
Both sentences were preceded by emotional testimony from Arbery’s family, which told the court how the killing changed their lives. Cooper-Jones said during her testimony she was confused when she was told that Gregory McMichael was with his son Travis when Arbery was killed.
“I struggled to come to the realization that a father would actually accompany his son to take a life,” she said. “I didn’t want to believe that, because me as a mother, I could never accompany my son to do any type of crime.”
Gregory McMichael apologized for his actions before he was sentenced, telling Arbery’s family the “loss that you’ve endured is beyond description. There’s no words for it.”
“I’m sure that my words mean little to you, but I wanted to assure you I never wanted any of this to happen. There was no malice in my heart or my son’s heart that day,” he added.
Amy Lee Copeland, the attorney for Travis McMichael, argued for her client to remain in federal custody and to serve out his term with the Federal Bureau of Prisons rather than the Georgia Department of Corrections.
Copeland said her client fears for his life and has received hundreds of threats and forcing him to serve his time in a state facility would make him vulnerable to “vigilante justice.” Gregory McMichael’s made the same request but argued it was due to his health.
Judge Wood denied both requests saying she had “neither the authority nor the inclination to override the rules.”