Arbery killers set to be sentenced for hate crimes in August | National
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — White men convicted of hate crimes for chasing and killing Ahmaud Arbery while running in their Georgia neighborhood are set to be sentenced this summer in federal court.
United States District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood has scheduled sentencing hearings for August 1 for all three men. Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, each face a maximum sentence of life in prison in connection with the 2020 death of the 25-year-old black man.
It is possible that the sentencing date may change. Citing a scheduling conflict, prosecutors on Tuesday asked the judge in a legal filing to push back hearings until sometime after Aug. 6.
The McMichaels and Bryan are already serving life sentences in Georgia after being convicted of murder in state court last fall. The trio faced a second trial in federal court, where they were found guilty in February of committing hate crimes after a jury found Arbery’s murder was racially motivated.
The McMichaels armed themselves and used a pickup truck to chase Arbery on February 23, 2020, after spotting him running in their neighborhood just outside the port city of Brunswick, Georgia. Bryan joined the chase and recorded cellphone video of Travis McMichael blasting Arbery with a shotgun.
The McMichaels told investigators they suspected Arbery of being a burglar and were trying to detain him for police. Travis McMichael said he opened fire in self-defense as Arbery threw punches and grabbed his shotgun.
No arrests were made more than two months after the murder, when graphic cellphone video was leaked online and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took the case to local police. Arbery’s death became part of a broader consideration of racial injustice in the criminal justice system after a series of fatal encounters between black people and police.
While life sentences handed down in the state murder case rendered the ensuing hate crimes trial largely symbolic, federal prosecutors used the second trial to expose how the three defendants had espoused racist views .
To support the hate crime charges, prosecutors showed the jury about two dozen text messages and social media posts showing Travis McMichael and Bryan repeatedly using racial slurs in text messages and social media posts.
Defense attorneys argued that the McMichaels and Bryan did not pursue and kill Arbery because of his race, but acted on their serious, albeit mistaken, suspicion that Arbery had committed crimes in their neighborhood.
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