Ahmaud Arbery’s family delivers tearful impact statements before sentencing

A Georgia court imposed a maximum sentence on Greg McMichael and his son Travis McMichael, who will do life plus 20 years. William "Roddie" Bryan received a 30-year sentence.

Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, father, and sister delivered tearful victim’s impact statements on Friday at the sentencing of the three men who murdered him.

The family’s grief may have moved the court to impose maximum sentences on Travis and Greg McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan, convicted in Arbery’s 2020 murder.

“Please give all three defendants who are responsible for the death of my son the maximum punishment in this court, which I do believe is behind bars without the possible chance for parole,” said Wanda Cooper-Jones during the sentencing hearing on Jan. 7 at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia. 

“Today I laid you to rest. I told you, I love you. And someday, somehow I would get you justice,” Cooper-Jones added. “Son, I love you as much today as I did [the] day that you were born. Raising you was the honor of my life, and I’m very proud of you.”

Wanda Cooper-Jones Arbery thegrio.com
Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones leaves the podium after giving her impact statement to Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley during the sentencing of Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, on January 7, 2022 in Brunswick, Georgia. (Photo by Stephen B. Morton-Pool/Getty Images)

Cooper-Jones previously condemned defense attorney Laura Hogue during closing arguments when she told the jury that Ahmaud had “no socks to cover his long, dirty toenails” at the time of his death.

As previously reported, Hogue told jurors in November, “Turning Ahmaud Arbery into a victim after the choices that he made does not reflect the reality of what brought Ahmaud Arbery to Satilla Shores in khaki shorts, with no socks to cover his long dirty toenails.” 

“I’ll just say this, regardless of how long and how dirty his toenails were, that’s still my son, and he didn’t deserve to die the way that he died,” Cooper-Jones told CBS Mornings at the time.

“I wish he would have cut and cleaned his toenails before he went out for that jog that day,” she said. “I guess he would have if he knew he would be murdered.”

Arbery thegrio.com
Ahmaud Arbery’s father Marcus Arbery, center, sits in the courtroom with other family members during the sentencing of Greg McMichael, his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan in the Glynn County Courthouse, Friday, Jan. 7, 2022, in Brunswick, Ga. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Greg McMichael, 66, his son Travis McMichael, 35, and their neighbor, Bryan, 52, were convicted of murder in November for the shooting death of 25-year-old Arbery.

Greg, a former police officer, and his son chased Arbery in a pickup truck on Feb. 23, 2020, in Brunswick, Georgia, believing that he was responsible for a string of burglaries in the area.

Travis fatally shot Arbery, while Bryan filmed the killing. Defense attorneys argued the defendants were trying to conduct a citizen’s arrest on Arbery, which was legal in the state at the time.

Though Arbery was captured on surveillance cameras inside a home under construction in the area, no evidence has ever pointed to his involvement in a crime.

All three men were found guilty of murder by an all-white jury, theGrio reported. They were also indicted on separate federal hate crime and kidnapping charges, for which they will stand trial in February.

Travis and Gregory were sentenced to life, plus 20 years without the possibility of parole. Bryan will have to serve 30 years until he is eligible for parole.

Greg McMichael, Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. (Photos: Glynn County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Murder convictions in the state of Georgia come with a minimum sentence of life imprisonment, with the possibility of parole should the judge show mercy on the convicted. Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski did not seek the death penalty for Arbery’s killers, only life without parole.

“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,” Cooper-Jones said. 

“When they couldn’t sufficiently scare him or intimidate him, they killed him,” she added. 

“This verdict doesn’t bring [Ahmaud] back, but it does help bring closure to this very difficult chapter of my life,” Cooper Jones said.

Ahmaud’s sister, Jasmine Arbery, also called for “the maximum sentence available to the court.”

“Ahmaud had a future that was taken from him in an instance of violence,” Jasmine tearfully said, NPR reports. “He was robbed of his life pleasures, big and small. He will never be able to fulfill his professional dreams, nor will he be able to start a family, or even be a part of my daughter’s life.”

“The loss of Ahmaud has devastated me and my family,” she said, “so I’m asking that the man that killed him be given the maximum sentence available to the court.”

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s podcast “Acting Up”? Download our newest episodes now! TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!