BRUNSWICK, Ga. — With a short heartfelt statement, Ahmaud Arbery's mother stood strong in front of a courtroom asking the judge to give the three men convicted of killing her son a life sentence without parole possibilities. On Feb. 23, 2020, Arbery, 25, was jogging in a south Georgia neighborhood near Brunswick in Glynn County, when he was chased, shot and killed.
Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael, and William "Roddie" Bryan were convicted of murder in November right before Thanksgiving.
Before Wanda Cooper-Jones gave her plea, she said she wanted to talk directly to her son, saying raising him was the honor of her life.
"I made a promise to you the day I laid you to rest," she said. "I told you I loved you and someday, somehow I would get you justice. Son, I love you as much today as I did the day that you were born."
With the men convicted of killing Arbery feet away in the same room, Cooper-Jones told Judge Timothy Walmsley that the men have chosen to lie, to attack her son and his family.
"They each have no remorse and do not deserve any leniency," she said. "This wasn't a case of mistaken identity or mistaken fact. They chose to target my son because they didn't want him in their community."
"When they couldn't sufficiently scare him or intimidate him, they killed him," he said.
She also commented about a statement made during the trial last year that made her get up and leave the courtroom. In November, Laura Hogue, who represented Gregory McMichael in the trial over Arbery's death, said during her closing arguments that the facts of the case presented didn't resemble what prosecutors said happened on the day Arbery was killed in Feb. 2020.
"Turning Ahmaud Arbery into a victim after the choices that he made does not reflect the reality of what brought Ahmaud Arbery to Satilla Shores in his khaki shorts, with no socks, to cover his long dirty toenails," Hogue said that day.
When Cooper-Jones heard the comment she left the courtroom. On Friday during the sentencing hearing, she referenced it again. She described her son as loving and said sometimes he was messy.
"He sometimes refused to wear socks or take good care of his good clothing. I wish he would have cut and cleaned his toenails before he went out for that jog that day. I guess he would have if he knew he would be murdered."
"Your honor, I'm standing here before you as the mother of Ahmaud Arbery asking you to please give all three defendants who are responsible for the death of my son the maximum punishment in this court, which I do believe is life behind bars without the possible chance for parole."
His sister, Jasmine, echoed those comments. Before Cooper-Jones took the podium, Jasmine said her brother was robbed of his life treasures.
"Ahmaud had dark skin that glistened in the sunlight like gold. He had thick coiley hair he would often like to twist. Ahmaud had a broad nose."
She tearfully said he was tall with an athletic build, and enjoyed running and being outdoors.
"These were the qualities that made these men assume he was a dangerous criminal and chased him with guns drawn."
She also asked the judge to give the men the maximum sentence.