Ahmaud Arbery case: Here's how long the jogger's three killers will be in jail

Sentencing for Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William Roddie Bryan held on January 7, handed down harshest possible sentences


                            Ahmaud Arbery case: Here's how long the jogger's three killers will be in jail
(L- R) Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, William 'Roddie' Bryan (Glynn County Detention Center)
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The three men responsible for killing jogger Ahmaud Arbery were finally handed their sentences by Judge Timothy R. Walmsley on January 7, 2022. The three men  - Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William Roddie Bryan were found guilty by a nearly all-White jury on November 24, 2021, of killing Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia. Since then, they've been on an agonizing wait to learn how long they'd be locked behind bars, and it appears the judge decided to hand down the harshest possible sentence.

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The judge called the murder of Arbery a "tragedy on many, many levels," and "disturbing" while handing down his verdict. He added, "He was hunted down and shot and he was killed because individuals took the law into their own hands." Of course, the verdict isn't the end of the line for the trio, with the Department of Justice filing a separate case on federal hate crime charges, the trial for which will begin on February 7, 2022.

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Even if the three are found guilty in the federal case, it's unlikely to have little impact on their jail time because Judge Walmsley has already handed down the strictest sentence he could, barring the death penalty. While Arbery's mother argued for the death penalty, the prosecutors didn't go so far and instead sought jail time for the trio.

Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley speaks during the trial for Ahmaud Arbery's shooting death at the Glynn County Courthouse on November 9, 2021, in Brunswick, Georgia. (Stephen B. Morton - Pool/Getty Images)

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How long will Arbery's killers be jailed?

Recounting what the three men said on the video of Arbery's killing, the judge noted, "This was a killing. It was callous and it occurred because confrontation was being sought." He then confirmed Travis and Gregory McMichael, the two men that shot Arbery would be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. It stems from the murder charge the duo was convicted of, which carries a mandatory life sentence. The duo's lawyers requested the judge to consider the possibility of parole after 30 years, but the judge sided with the prosecution who requested parole be off the table. 

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The duo also faced additional prison time for the other charges they were convicted of, which they will serve concurrent to each other but consecutive to the life sentence. As a result, it means the McMichaels face a life sentence plus 20 years. 

Three white men are accused of chasing down and murdering Arbery in southeastern Georgia in 2020. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

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Bryan is the only defendant who will be eligible for parole, but at the time, the judge did not say how long he would need to serve. The typical minimum in Georgia is 30 years, but prosecutors requested he spends at least 15 years behind bars. It's unclear at this time when Bryan would be eligible for parole, but he's certainly going away for a very long time. Bryan was also slapped with an additional 15 years stemming from his other charges, but the judge noted that it would be suspended, meaning he would simply serve a life sentence. 

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"Instead of closure, maybe it would be best to see today's proceeding as an exercise in accountability. We are all accountable for our own actions. Today demonstrates that everybody is accountable to the rule of law. Taking the law into your own hands is a dangerous endeavor," the judge noted while handing down the verdict. The lawyers for the trio announced their intention to appeal, with Bryan's attorney saying "appellate courts will reverse this conviction," according to CNN

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