Jury Recommends Life Plus 419 Years in Prison for Charlottesville Rally Murderer
A jury recommended life in prison plus 419 years for the man who drove his car into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, over a year ago, killing one woman and injuring dozens of others, NBC News reports.
James Alex Fields Jr. was found guilty by the same jury for first-degree murder on Friday. After around four hours of deliberation over the weekend, the jury recommended life in prison, plus 70 years each for five malicious wounding charges, 20 years for each of three malicious wounding charges, nine years on one charge of leaving the scene of an accident, and $480,000 in fines, says NBC News.
The judge reportedly accepted the jury’s recommendations, but Fields will not formally be sentenced until March.
It’s been sixteen months since Fields drove his Dodge Challenger into a group of protesters following the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. The rally claimed to be a defense of local statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, but attracted white supremacists and neo-Nazis from around the country. Fields drove from Ohio to attend the rally.
In driving his car into the crowd, Fields injured dozens and killed Charlottesville resident Heather Heyer. The jury heard testimony from Heyer’s mother and some of those injured during the trial. Field’s lawyer tried to argue he “acted out of fear” instead of intent to harm, but footage shows Fields’ car idling and backing up before driving directly into the crowd, The New York Times reports.
A federal grand jury also indicted Fields for hate crimes last June. He has yet to face trial on those charges.