Wood also told Bryan he was “not a model of citizenship even after this happened,” but the one thing that he did “was explain you had that crucial evidence.”
“The sentence is lengthy and one that has been earned," the judge told Bryan.
Her ruling means Bryan, a white man, is the only murderer who could be eligible for parole. Wood, however, said the sentence she delivered him isn’t a light sentence “because you don't deserve a light sentence."
Gregory and Travis armed themselves with guns, got into a truck, and chased 25-year-old Arbery on Feb. 23, 2020 through the Satilla Shores neighborhood in South Georgia after accusing Arbery of breaking into a home under construction in the community, according to a federal indictment. Bryan used his truck to block Arbery’s path.
Assistant U.S. District Attorney Tara Lyons said Bryan's perceptions of Black people "absolutely influenced his decisions on the day he chased Ahmaud Arbery.”
“This never, ever, ever would've happened if Ahmaud had been white,” Lyons said and WSB Radio journalist Veronica Waters captured.
RELATED STORY: 'I wish they’d all die': Trial for Arbery exposes vile racism and it's not the only 'despicable' one
Bryan did take an opportunity to speak during the sentencing and apologized to Arbery’s family and friends, Waters reported.
“I would like to say to Mr. Ahmaud Arbery's family and friends how sorry I am for what happened to him on that day,” Bryan said. “I never intended any harm to him, and never would've played any role if I knew then what I know now."
Marcus Arbery, Ahmaud’s father, scoffed at the killers asking for mercy and said “it was hard to look at” the three murderers “everyday as a father.”
“And they show no remorse for how they took his life,” Marcus Arbery said. “That’s the thing that really bothers me real bad, and then they ask for mercy. They didn’t give him no mercy that day.”
Arbery was shot with a shotgun three times, twice in the chest and once in a wrist, according to autopsy results.
“They didn’t even give him a chance to finish his run,” Marcus Arbery said.
The McMichaels must serve their sentences in state prison—a request Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones advocated for when the McMichaels pleaded guilty to the federal count against them in February— according to WSB Radio. “Granting these men their preferred conditions of confinement will defeat me,” Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, told Wood at the time. “It gives them one last chance to spit in my face after murdering my son.”
Amy Lee Copeland, Travis McMichael’s attorney, said in federal court that his client already has received hundreds of threats and a state prison would mean “an effective back-door death penalty.”
Cooper-Jones said during a news conference that whether he served in federal or state prison, it wasn’t going to bring Ahmaud home, “and that’s a pain that we live with everyday.”
She said she’s proud to say “we finally got justice for Ahmaud on the federal level” but that she was waiting for "just a simple I'm sorry” from Travis.
“But evidently he wasn't sorry," the mother said.
Cooper-Jones also mentioned the fact that although her son’s murderers were sentenced, the alleged corruption that shielded them from accountability for months has not been addressed fully.
It took 74 days after Arbery’s death for charges to be filed against the McMichaels. Former Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson was indicted on counts of obstruction and violating her oath of office. Johnson, the applicable prosecutor at the time, recused herself from the case because Gregory McMichael used to work as an investigator in her office, but she also involved Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill to act in her place. His son worked in the same office. Barnhill wrote in his eventual recusal letter that the Arbery family “are not strangers to the local criminal justice system,” according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“So the journey is not over,” Cooper-Jones said. “We still have some more people to deal with.”
Three white men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery found guilty of hate crime and kidnapping charges
'I wish they’d all die': Trial for Arbery exposes vile racism and it's not the only 'despicable' one
Same day jury seated, disgusting remarks unearthed in federal trial of Ahmaud Arbery's killers