A U.S. judge sentenced Travis McMichael on Monday to life in prison for committing federal hate crimes in the 2020 killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was shot jogging through a majority-white neighborhood in Georgia. .
Magistrate Lisa Godbey Wood sentenced McMichael, a 36-year-old white former Coast Guard mechanic, in the seaside city of Brunswick. McMichael, convicted of murder in a previous state trial, was the first of three white men convicted in the case to be sentenced in hearings on Monday.
In passing the sentence, Wood said mobile phone video of McMichael shooting Arbery at close range with a shotgun was burned into his memory.
“You acted because of the color of Mr. Arbery’s skin,” the judge said.
McMichael, his father Gregory, 66, and his neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, were convicted in February of violating Arbery’s civil rights by attacking him because of his race and attempting to kidnap him. Gregory McMichael and Bryan are scheduled to be sentenced on Monday.
The case is part of a series of murders of black people in recent years that have drawn attention to the problem of racism in the US criminal justice system and law enforcement. It has also highlighted the difficulties of gun violence in America.
The victim’s father, Marcus Arbery, told the court during the hearing: “These three demons have broken my heart into pieces that cannot be found or repaired.” Referring to Travis McMichael, he added: “You hate black people.”
The three men were convicted in state court in November of murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal intent to commit a felony for chasing and shooting Arbery while jogging in his Satilla Shores neighborhood near Brunswick, and a jury He rejected the self-defense claims.