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3 men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery will learn their fate Friday

A judge must decide whether the three men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery will ever be eligible for parole, or if they must die behind bars.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — (Save this page: First Coast News will stream the proceedings live here, and on the FCN app starting at 10 a.m. Friday.)

The three men convicted of murdering 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery in February 2020 will receive a life sentence Friday.

Under Georgia law, Greg and Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan each face a mandatory penalty of life in prison for their murder convictions.

But it’s up to a judge to decide whether they will be eligible for parole, or if they will die behind bars. Even if the judge sentences them to life with the possibility of parole, they would each have to serve at least 30 years in prison before being eligible for a parole review.

The men were convicted in November of multiple counts of felony murder, aggravated assault and kidnapping. Travis McMichael, who shot and killed Arbery after the three men chased him through their suburban Georgia neighborhood of Satilla Shores, was also convicted of malice murder.

The case drew national attention during widespread protests following the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Although Arbery was shot and killed months before Floyd, his death initially wasn’t investigated as a murder. It wasn’t until cell phone video taken by Bryan was released in May that the men were arrested.

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Since then, Brunswick has been the site of hundreds of peaceful protests that continued through the 5 ½ week case, from jury selection in mid-October to the Nov. 24 verdict.

At Friday’s hearing, prosecutors and lawyers will present arguments for their preferred sentence and Arbery’s family will be permitted to deliver victim impact statements. Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley is expected to pronounce sentence at the hearing. 

The men have been in custody since May 2020. They are also charged with federal hate crimes in a case set to begin next month. Jury selection is slated to begin Feb. 7, 2022. A hearing in the case is scheduled for Jan. 31 at 10 a.m.

Attorneys have filed a motion to block racist text messages and social media posts allegedly made by Bryan. Other motions to limit evidence have been sealed by the court.  

Cameras are not allowed in federal court, but First Coast News will cover the case daily on air and online when it begins.

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