(CNN) — Before sentencing three men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery in South Georgia to life in prison, Judge Timothy R. Walmsley observed a minute of silence on Friday and said he hoped to contextualize the time the 25-year-old spent being persecuted. by the accused.
“That minute represents a fraction of the time Ahmaud Arbery was running at Satilla Shores,” Walmsley said, before falling silent.
The Arbery manhunt ran for about five minutes, the judge said once he spoke again, when father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. chased the 25-year-old black man in his neighborhood on the outskirts of Brunswick, Georgia.
The men believed Arbery had committed a crime in their neighborhood, they told police. The McMichaels were armed and chased after them, and Bryan later joined the chase, registering him from his truck. Bryan’s video shows Travis McMichael getting out of his truck and confronting Arbery, who fights Travis over a shotgun before young McMichael fatally shoots him.
“I want to put that time period in context, and the only way I can think of doing it, it may be a bit theatrical, but I think it’s appropriate,” Walmsley told the court. “I want us all to have a concept of time. So what I’m going to do is sit quietly for a minute.”
Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, bowed her head during the silence, according to a reporter present in the courtroom. The silence was broken only by the sound of journalists writing, the reporter said.
“When I thought of this, I thought from many different angles,” Walmsley said, “and kept returning to the terror that must have been in the mind of the young man running through Satilla Shores.”
Walmsley sentenced Travis McMichael and Gregory McMichael to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He sentenced Bryan to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Bryan will be eligible for parole under Georgia law only after serving 30 years in prison, because he was convicted of serious violent crimes.
Walmsley drew attention to other comments he made earlier in trial, perhaps most notably late in the jury selection process. At the time, Walmsley said there seemed to be “intentional discrimination” when the chosen panel of 12 people included only one black member.
The two-and-a-half-week selection process ended in mid-November when prosecutors accused defense attorneys of disproportionately questioning qualified black jurors and basing some of their hits on race.
While it ultimately ruled that the case could move forward as the defense could provide “valid reasons, beyond race, why the jurors were removed,” Walmsley said, “this court has found that there appears to be intentional discrimination. “.
CNN’s Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism