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Father and son are convicted of federal hate crimes in black jogger's death

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

Ahmaud Arbery's killers are headed for state prison in Georgia. Travis and Greg McMichael were each given a second life sentence for federal hate crimes yesterday. William "Roddie" Bryan was sentenced to an additional 35 years. All three had been sentenced on murder charges in January. A federal jury found later that the men were racially motivated when they chased and shot the 25-year-old Black man as he ran through a neighborhood outside Brunswick, Ga. Benjamin Payne of Georgia Public Broadcasting has more.

BENJAMIN PAYNE, BYLINE: Heading into Monday's sentencing hearings, the big question wasn't how much time the men would face, but rather where they would serve their sentences. That's because a Georgia court had already sentenced them to life in state prison, with only Bryan having the possibility of parole after 30 years. Federal Judge Lisa Godbey Wood ruled that all three will return to Georgia custody to serve out their sentences in state prison. That's what Ahmaud Arbery's family had asked Wood to do. Here's Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, speaking outside the Brunswick Federal Courthouse in the rain.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WANDA COOPER-JONES: I'm very proud to say that we finally got justice for Ahmaud on the federal level. I am pleased that they will do their time in the state penitentiary. I said in court that Ahmaud wasn't only shot one time, he was shot three times. And I'll tell you, I feel every shot every day that I wake up.

PAYNE: The Arbery family was joined by civil rights icon Reverend Jesse Jackson, who likewise applauded the ruling, saying, in his words, a new South is emerging. Attorneys for the McMichaels argued in court that state prison would be too dangerous for such high-profile criminals. But the judge wouldn't have any of it. She pointed to long-standing precedent that the jurisdiction of the original conviction - in this case, the state of Georgia - should prevail for the sake of imprisonment. Even so, Judge Wood imposed life sentences on the McMichaels. Bryan, the only one who didn't bring a gun with him, was given 35 years. One of the federal prosecutors said during the sentencing he hoped it would give a sense of peace and closure, and if not peace, a sense of justice for Ahmaud Arbery.

For NPR News, I'm Benjamin Payne in Brunswick, Ga.

(SOUNDBITE OF DUKE ELLINGTON AND HIS ORCHESTRA'S "THE SINGLE PETAL OF A ROSE (THE QUEEN'S SUITE)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Benjamin Payne

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