Ahmaud Arbery: US father and son receive life sentences for hate crime

William 'Roddie' Bryan, their neighbour, is given 35 years in relation to murder of black jogger in Georgia neighbourhood in 2020

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A judge sentenced father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael to life in prison on Monday for a federal hate crime in the 2020 murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man shot while jogging through a Georgia neighbourhood.

Their neighbour, William "Roddie" Bryan, was sentenced to 35 years.

All three men, who are white, are already serving life sentences after being convicted of Arbery's murder during a state trial last year. Only Bryan has the possibility of parole.

In handing down the sentence to Travis McMichael, US District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood said the widely circulated mobile footage of him shooting Arbery at close range with a shotgun had stuck with her.

"You acted because of the colour of Mr Arbery's skin," Ms Wood told him.

The McMichaels and Bryan were convicted of violating Arbery's rights by attacking him because of his race.

The father and son were also convicted of a federal firearms charge.

Gregory McMichael, testifying before he was sentenced, told Arbery's family he prayed that "God's peace" would to come to them.

"The loss that you've endured is beyond description," he said as some of Arbery's relatives wiped away tears in a crowded courtroom that included civil rights leader Jesse Jackson.

"I'm sure that my words mean very little to you but I want 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."

The judge said Bryan deserved a shorter sentence because he was not carrying a gun.

Bryan later told the court: "I'm glad to finally have the chance to say to Arbery's family and friends how sorry I am for what happened to him on that day."

Marcus Arbery, the slain man's father, told the court during the first hearing: "These three devils have broken my heart into pieces that cannot be found or repaired."

Referring to Travis McMichael, he said: "You hate black people."

"I struggled to come to the realisation that a father could actually accompany his son to take a life," Wanda Cooper Jones, Arbery's mother, told the second hearing in urging a life sentence for Gregory McMichael.

Arbery's death was one in a series of high-profile killings of black people in recent years that has thrust the issue of racism, criminal justice and gun violence into the American mainstream.

Arbery was running through the mainly white neighbourhood of Satilla Shores in February 2020 when the McMichaels decided to grab their guns and chase him in a pickup truck.

Their neighbour, Bryan, joined the chase and recorded Travis McMichael shooting at Arbery from close range.

It was later revealed Arbery had nothing on him other than his clothes and sneakers.

The three men were convicted last November in state court of murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal intent to commit a felony, with a jury rejecting self-defence claims.

They have appealed.

Reuters contributed to this report

Updated: August 09, 2022, 6:23 AM