One day after the three men charged in Ahmaud Arbery's death were found guilty of felony murder, his mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said that she has something to be especially thankful for this year.
"We finally got justice for Ahmaud," Cooper-Jones told ABC News' "Good Morning America" on Thursday morning. "Today is Thanksgiving and I'm really, really thankful. My family and I are really, really thankful for the verdict we got yesterday."
On Wednesday, Greg McMichael, his son Travis McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan, were each found guilty – By a jury of 1 Black person and 11 white people – on numerous charges, including felony murder. They each faced nine counts of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit a felony.
Arbery was murdered on Feb. 25, 2020, after being chased and fatally shot while running through a Georgia neighborhood. Video of his killing sparked national and international outcry as part of a reckoning on race.
Travis McMichael, 35, was found guilty of all charges against him, including malice murder and felony murder. Greg McMichael, 65, was found not guilty of malice murder, but was found guilty on all other counts, including felony murder, assault and false imprisonment. Bryan was found not guilty on one count each of malice murder, felony murder and aggravated assault, but was found guilty on six other charges including felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and attempt to commit a felony.
All three men will be required to stay in custody until their sentencing hearing, a date for which has not yet been announced.
Outside the courtroom after the verdict, Cooper-Jones said that she "never thought this day would come — but God is good."
"Thank you for those who marched, those who prayed," she continued, saying that Arbery – calling him by his nickname of "Quez" – "will now rest in peace."
Cooper-Jones told "GMA" that there were "really no words to really explain all the emotions that I was going through" when the verdict was read; she sat in the courtroom with tears streaming down her face.
She said that she was not surprised by the verdict: "I sat there every day. I heard the state present their evidence. I was very, very confident that they did a very good job of presenting their evidence."
" I knew that if the jurors took that evidence, went back and deliberated over the evidence that was presented, that we would get justice for Ahmaud," she added. "And we did."
"We know that Ahmaud was targeted because he was a Black runner in a community that thought that his presence there was inappropriate," Lee Merritt, her attorney, told "GMA."
Merritt applauded the prosecutors for their efforts throughout the trial: "What I appreciated about the prosecution's strategy was that they said Ahmaud Arbery was a citizen in the United States running on a free road, and that alone entitled him to life."
"Not by virtue of any, you know, protected class that he belongs to," he added. "But we all enjoy these rights as citizens of the United States of America."
When Cooper-Jones was asked what her message for the three men was, she said, "I would simply tell them that their bad decisions have impacted two families – my family and again their family."
"Not only did the McMichaels lose a son, they lost a grandfather and they will be impacted by his grandchild," she continued. "I lost a son, but they lost three generations there."
Cooper-Jones also spoke to The Associated Press, where she lamented the fact that this is "the second Thanksgiving we’ve had without Ahmaud."
"But at the same time I’m thankful," she told the outlet. "This is the first Thanksgiving we are saying we got justice for Ahmaud."
Cooper-Jones told the AP that she is planning a quiet holiday away from home.
“Today is actually going to be a day of rest. I’ve been sitting in that courtroom since October 18,” she said. “I’m gathering my immediate family. We’re going to have a small dinner. We’ve going to be thankful. We’re going to give our praises to God.”
“We’re thankful for Ahmaud’s life," Arbery’s aunt Thea Brooks told the AP. "Thankful for the love that he’s shown us, for the years we had him. Thankful for the fight we stayed in for justice. Thankful that now we can start healing."