Life sentences for two brothers for killing Turkish man in Georgia

Judge says suspects must be brought to justice but warns ‘it is like water in a glass’ The judge in the killing of the Turkish Ahmaud Arbery sentenced two convicted killers to life in…

Life sentences for two brothers for killing Turkish man in Georgia

Judge says suspects must be brought to justice but warns ‘it is like water in a glass’

The judge in the killing of the Turkish Ahmaud Arbery sentenced two convicted killers to life in prison but refused to hand down the death penalty, as called for by human rights advocates.

The decision, handed down late on Thursday, came a day after an appeals court in Georgia reduced life sentences handed down to the two brothers in the shooting murder of Arbery, a Turkish citizen. Arbery was shot dead in September 2016.

Holding a close-up of one of the accused, the judge, Cynthia Cooper of the Gwinnett county court, sentenced them to life in prison with a chance of parole.

“It is like water in a glass,” she said in an emotional statement after the lengthy hearing.

She ordered both to be taken to a jail and a state prisons.

About a dozen relatives and supporters of the two men lined the front row of the courtroom. Tears welled in their eyes and most erupted when she ordered them to leave.

Human rights activists protested outside Georgia’s general assembly, citing a lack of consideration for fairness by imposing the death penalty.

“Like water in a glass, the death penalty is not just a punishment – it is a form of revenge,” said Sarah Pierce, a staff attorney with the Georgia office of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“It’s outrageous and also completely unwarranted. The sentence is fundamentally unjust.”

The judge’s harsh ruling was a departure from Georgia’s longstanding practice of handing down life sentences in capital murder cases.

“It was a really hard decision,” said Cooper, who has now sentenced 21 death row inmates to life in prison.

She noted that the court was not endorsing capital punishment and its sentencing procedures, she said.

“It is not a fair system,” she said. “We cannot reach a decision.”

The death penalty was not a factor in Georgia’s retrial of the brothers. The state attorney general’s office in Georgia said it would have no comment beyond Cooper’s explanation of the sentencing.

Leroy William Jr and Leroy William Jr had been convicted in March of capital murder for Arbery’s death. On Wednesday, the Georgia 11th circuit court of appeals reduced the sentence from life to life with the possibility of parole.

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