In November, a jury convicted the three men of the murder.
The video of Arbery’s death went viral at the time. Father and son Greg (65) and Travis McMichael (35) stalked Arbery because they thought the black man was a fugitive and might have broken into the house. Neighbor William Bryan later joined them. The footage shows Arbery trying to grab Travis McMichael’s pistol during a struggle, but Arbery then shoots Arbery dead.
The murder was one of two cases that sparked outrage among mostly black Americans shortly before the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The authorities initially refused to prosecute the perpetrators, who they claimed had acted in self-defence. It was only after the video of the murder was leaked, more than two months later, that the three were arrested and charged.
When it came to the trial, the jury was furious: 11 of the 12 candidates were white, one black, while more than half of Brunswick’s population is black. Attorney General Linda Donekowski accused the defense of deliberately disqualifying black candidates from the jury. The process itself was viewed as a file test case of racial inequality within the American legal system.
While reading the verdict, the judge observed a minute of silence on Friday to draw attention to the terror the victim experienced while being chased, and noted no remorse for the “terrifying” act. According to the ruling, only the neighbor can ask for pardon after 30 years in prison, but the father and son will remain in prison until their death.
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