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Ahmaud Arbery's family says sentencing sends 'strong message'

Arbery's family believes Friday's sentencing sends a strong message what happened to him isn't acceptable.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Ahmaud Arbery's family believes Friday's sentencing sends a strong message: what happened to him isn't acceptable.

Travis McMichael and Greg McMichael were each sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 20 years. Meanwhile, William "Roddie" Bryan was sentenced to life in prison with parole.

“This is just the start of the healing process," Arbery's aunt Thea Brooks said just minutes after the sentencing. 

“I’m actually pleased with all the sentencing to know that Greg, who was the initiator, and Travis, who was the gunman, will receive life in prison and never be going home because they took that from Ahmaud on the day that he was out for a jog," Brooks said.

Brooks also feels justice was served for William "Roddie" Bryan, who filmed the shooting.

“You might as well say he has life with no parole, because life and his charges, he'll do at least 20 to 30 years before he's even eligible for parole, so it's pretty much like life anyway, considering his age, he won't go home either," Brooks said. 

“My heart is broken and always will be broken," Arbery's father Marcus said. 

He said he's haunted by his son's death while reading his victim impact statement during Friday's hearing.

“When I close my eyes, I see his execution in my mind over and over," Marcus said. "I’ll see that for the rest of my life.”

Arbery's family said while the sentences will never bring him back, it does give them some sense of closure.

“We love our son, and we will never have him to celebrate anything, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or his birthday," Marcus said. "His killers should spend the rest of their lives thinking about what they did.”

“My family is going to miss Ahmaud. We’re going to miss his jokes his impersonations his warm smile," said Wanda Cooper-Jones, Arbery's mother. “When I entered that courtroom on October 18th, I sat in that courtroom for five weeks straight, but I knew we’d come out with a victory."

Arbery's parents spoke to reporters after the sentencing on the steps of the Glynn County Courthouse. 

“God put these people together with Ahmaud so that lets you know what he was about. He was a kid of love because he brought people together," Marcus said. 

Brooks hopes the sentencing sends a clear message about her nephew's murder.

“These types of behaviors are not acceptable,"  Brooks said. "What they did to Ahmaud on that day was not acceptable, and it's just sending a message that we are done dying as a community. We are not going to stand anymore for our young men's and women's lives to be taken and justice not be served for them.”

“Ahmaud rest in peace because mommy and daddy got glory for you," Arbery said.

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