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The men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery will get life sentences. Here's why.

It has to do with how Georgia structures its sentencing guidelines.

GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. — A jury convicted three men of murder in the Feb. 2020 killing of Ahmaud Arbery on Wednesday, bringing about a conclusion to the most socially and politically consequential trial in Georgia in recent time.

Travis McMichael, who shot Ahmaud Arbery, was convicted of all charges. His father Greg McMichael was found not guilty of malice murder, but guilty of four counts of felony murder and four additional felony counts. 

William "Roddie" Bryan was found not guilty of malice murder, one felony murder count and one felony aggravated assault count and convicted of three felony murder counts and three additional felony counts.

RELATED: Guilty | Verdict reached in death of Ahmaud Arbery

Each man had faced the same nine charges.

Though a sentencing hearing won't take place for another couple of weeks, Judge Timothy Walmsley said on Wednesday, because of the nature of their convictions each man will get life sentences.

Here's why that is.

Georgia malice and felony murder laws

Georgia law incorporates a minimum sentence into its malice and felony murder laws, and the law is clear on how long that shall be.

OCGA § 16-5-1 lays out three options: "A person convicted of the offense of murder shall be punished by death, by imprisonment for life without parole, or by imprisonment for life."

In this case, prosecutors did not seek the death penalty against the McMichaels or Bryan. That leaves the option for them to now be sentenced either to life in prison with parole or life in prison without parole. 

RELATED: When is sentencing for the men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery?

Whether or not the possibility of parole is incorporated into the sentence will be up to Judge Walmsley.

He said Wednesday he would "give everybody an opportunity to put together whatever evidence may be shown in aggravation from the state or mitigation from the defense" before the sentencing hearing.

The judge said that because in a sentencing hearing, attorneys may present additional evidence and call other witnesses (usually character witnesses) to argue why a person should spend more or less time in jail.

How he ways that additional evidence and testimony will determine the parole situation for each of the men convicted of murder.

Here are the full charges and verdicts for each man:

Travis McMichael

  • Malice murder - Guilty
  • Felony murder
    • Count 1 - Guilty
    • Count 2 - Guilty
    • Count 3 - Guilty
    • Count 4 - Guilty
  • Aggravated assault 
    • Count 1 - Guilty
    • Count 2 - Guilty
  • False imprisonment to commit false imprisonment - Guilty
  • Criminal attempt to commit a felony - Guilty 

Greg McMichael

  • Malice murder - Not Guilty
  • Felony murder
    • Count 1 - Guilty
    • Count 2 - Guilty
    • Count 3 - Guilty
    • Count 4 - Guilty 
  • Aggravated assault 
    • Count 1 - Guilty 
    • Count 2 - Guilty 
  • False imprisonment to commit false imprisonment - Guilty 
  • Criminal attempt to commit a felony - Guilty 

William Bryan

  • Malice murder - Not Guilty
  • Felony murder
    • Count 1 - Not Guilty
    • Count 2 - Guilty
    • Count 3 - Guilty
    • Count 4 - Guilty 
  • Aggravated assault 
    • Count 1 - Not Guilty
    • Count 2 - Guilty 
  • False imprisonment to commit false imprisonment - Guilty 
  • Criminal attempt to commit a felony - Guilty