“I owe that to him,” Cooper-Jones said. She’s attended every court hearing for the men charged in the shooting. Cobb prosecutors have put the McMichaels and Bryan on notice that they may seek a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole if the three are convicted.
“Ahmaud was killed in a very senseless manner,” Cooper-Jones said. “They didn’t care about it. They tried to cover it up. They didn’t value, they didn’t respect Ahmaud’s life. If these guys go to jail for the rest of their lives, it won’t bring Ahmaud back.”
“He’s never going to come back,” she continued. “Not next week, not next month, not next year. I’m just finally getting that reality check.”
Some days are more difficult that others. Mother’s Day, 2020 would’ve been Ahmaud’s 26th birthday, for example. Meanwhile, there have been some new revelations about her son’s struggles.
Recent court filings show that Arbery suffered from a mental illness: schizoaffective disorder, which can lead to impulsive behavior, mood swings and delusions. He self-treated his illness by running. It’s how he spent his last day alive.
“That’s a way of therapy,’” Cooper-Jones said Ahmaud’s doctor told her. “So if he’s running, if he’s running every day ... that’s comforting.”
Cooper-Jones said she’ll spend the anniversary of her son’s death with family. At 5 p.m., they’ll hold a candlelight vigil at New Springfield Baptist Church in Waynesboro. She’s asking everyone to wear blue ribbons in her son’s memory.
“He had his challenges, but we all have challenges,” Cooper-Jones said. “But he didn’t deserve to die like that.”
Timeline of the Ahmaud Arbery case