Ahmaud Arbery's killers sentenced to life in prison

By Adrienne Vogt, Fernando Alfonso III, Aditi Sangal, Melissa Mahtani, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 7:06 p.m. ET, January 7, 2022
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11:34 a.m. ET, January 7, 2022

Sister of Ahmaud Arbery says he was "full of life and energy" and was robbed of his future

(Pool)
(Pool)

The sister of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old man who was chased and killed in a Georgia neighborhood while he was running, said his death has "devastated" her and her family.

Jasmine Arbery described her brother as funny and energetic.

"Ahmaud had dark skin that glistened in the sunlight like gold. He had thick, coily hair and he would often like to twist it. Ahmaud had a broad nose ... He was tall with an athletic build. He enjoyed running and had an appreciation for being outdoors," she said. "These are the qualities that made these men assume that Ahmaud was a dangerous criminal and chase him with guns drawn. To me, those qualities reflect a young man full of life and energy, who looked like me, and the people I love."

"Ahmaud had a future that was taken from him in an instance of violence," she said.   

She asked the men convicted of killing him be given the maximum sentence available.

11:29 a.m. ET, January 7, 2022

Ahmaud Arbery's mother reads a message to her son: "Raising you was the honor of my life"

(Pool)
(Pool)

Wanda Cooper-Jones, Ahmaud Arbery's mother, began her statement in court today by reading a message to her late soon.

"This verdict doesn't bring you back, but it does help bring closure to this very difficult chapter of my life," she said. "I made a promise to you the day I laid you to rest: I told you I loved you, and some day, somehow, I would get you justice. Son, I love you as much today as I did the day you were born. Raising you was the honor of my life, and I'm very proud of you."

The three men convicted in Arbery's murder are being sentenced today. Members of Arbery's family are addressing the judge before he delivers the sentence.

11:09 a.m. ET, January 7, 2022

Prosecution begins arguments during sentencing for Ahmaud Arbery's killers

Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski is giving the state's opening arguments in the sentencing for the three men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery.

Prosecutors have said they will seek life without parole.

After Dunikoski's initial statements, prosecutors are expected to introduce evidence and statements. Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery's mother, intends to deliver a statement, her lawyer, S. Lee Merritt, said.

10:37 a.m. ET, January 7, 2022

The sentencing hearing for Ahmaud Arbery's killers has started

The sentencing hearing for the three White men who chased and murdered Ahmaud Arbery has started.

Travis McMichael, 35, his father, Gregory McMichael, 66, and neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan, 52, were convicted on a raft of charges, including felony murder, in the 2020 slaying of the 25-year-old Black jogger.

What we expect from today's hearing: Though murder is punishable by death in Georgia, prosecutors have said they'd seek life without parole. According to Georgia law, even if Judge Timothy Walmsley permits parole, it won't be considered for 30 years.

Arbery's family will be able to deliver statements aimed at yielding stiffer sentences, while the McMichaels' and Bryan's supporters can present character witnesses to press for lighter sentences. Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery's mother, intends to deliver a statement, her lawyer, S. Lee Merritt, said.

10:22 a.m. ET, January 7, 2022

Sentencing hearing for 3 men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery appears slightly delayed 

From CNN’s Devon M. Sayers and Alta Spells  

The sentencing hearing for Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET, but it appears to be at least slightly delayed.  

A print pool reporter in the courtroom said, “the bailiff just said he needed all attorneys in chambers.” 

No additional information was provided. 

10:08 a.m. ET, January 7, 2022

Arbery's family thanks supporters and attorneys before heading into court for sentencing hearing  

From CNN’s Devon M. Sayers and Alta Spells 

Wanda Cooper-Jones
Wanda Cooper-Jones (CNN)

The mother and father of Ahmaud Arbery thanked their attorneys and supporters before heading into court for the sentencing hearing for the three men convicted of killing their son. 

“The day that my family and I have prayed for has finally come, so thank you,” Wanda Cooper-Jones said at a news conference before heading into the courthouse.  

Both she and Ahmaud’s father, Marcus Arbery Sr., thanked the supporters that had gathered outside the courthouse.  

Arbery Sr., who was joined by his attorney Ben Crump, also thanked the attorneys for “helping get justice for Ahmaud."

9:45 a.m. ET, January 7, 2022

Attorney for one of Arbery's killers praises judge on his way into sentencing hearing  

From CNN’s Eric Figel, Devon M. Sayers and Alta Spells 

Attorney Kevin Gough
Attorney Kevin Gough (CNN)

An attorney for one of the convicted killers of Ahmaud Arbery praised Judge Timothy Walmsley ahead of the sentencing hearing for his client Friday morning.

“I have no doubt that he will give Roddie Bryan the individualized sentence that he deserves,” Bryan's attorney Kevin Gough told reporters as he entered the courthouse.  

Gough also said that he planned on filing some motions regarding the sentencing ahead of the hearing for the court to consider, challenging the court's ability to sentence his client to life in prison.  

Bryan is one of three men convicted in the 2020 murder of Arbery. Bryan's neighbors, Travis McMichael and Gregory McMichael, will also be sentenced today alongside Bryan.

9:21 a.m. ET, January 7, 2022

Ahmaud Arbery's mother: There's nothing the defendants can say that would make me feel better

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

(CNN)
(CNN)

Ahead of the sentencing of the three men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, his mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, says she doesn't "want to hear anything" from the defendants.

"I really don't want to hear anything from Travis. I really don't want to hear anything from either defendants. There's nothing that they can tell me today that would make me feel better. I miss Ahmaud more and more each day," she told CNN.

Her attorney S. Lee Merritt said the Department of Justice approached Cooper-Jones and her family earlier this week and asked if they would consider a plea deal where the convicts would be sentenced to 30 years in federal prison, and she rejected it.

"We believe that today the state will move forward with life sentences without the possibility of parole. And we think that's the appropriate sentence," he said.

Travis McMichael, 35, his father, Gregory McMichael, 66, and neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan, 52, who chased and murdered Arbery, will be sentenced today in a Georgia courthouse.

"Ahmaud didn't get a chance to live. So with that being said, Travis should not get a chance to live as a free man. Travis should go to prison for life without parole and ... he should remain in prison forever," Cooper-Jones added.

As she heard Travis McMichael testify during the trial, Cooper-Jones said it made her feel worse, and added that after seeing graphic photos of her murdered son, her days have been hard. She added she has looked forward to today, when the defendants are sentenced.

Going forward, Cooper-Jones says she is proud of the change that Arbery implemented.

"My family and I have started a foundation. The name is called The Ahmaud Arbery Foundation," she said. "The citizen's arrest law as well was passed in Georgia. Since we lost Ahmaud, we've got change already. So I'm very proud of that as well."

Watch more:

9:10 a.m. ET, January 7, 2022

Arbery's family was asked to consider federal plea deal for men convicted of killing their son, attorney says

From CNN’s Devon M. Sayers and Alta Spells 

The mother of Ahmaud Arbery was asked by federal prosecutors if she would consider a plea deal for the men who killed her son, she declined, her attorney told CNN’s Brianna Keilar during an appearance on New Day.  

“Earlier this week the Department of Justice approached Wanda Cooper-Jones and her family and asked whether or not they would consider a plea deal where these men would be sentenced to 30 years in federal prison, she rejected that offer because we believe that today the state will move forward with life sentences without the possibility of parole, and we think that’s the appropriate sentence,” said attorney S. Lee Merritt as he stood beside Wanda Cooper-Jones live on CNN.  

Travis McMichael, 35, his father, Gregory McMichael, 66, and neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan, 52, who chased and murdered Arbery, will be sentenced today in a Georgia courthouse.

They are also awaiting trial on separate federal hate crime charges, stemming from an April 28, 2021, federal grand jury indictment.