Jury recommends life in prison plus 419 years for Charlottesville car attacker

James Alex Fields was found guilty of murder and several counts of wounding.

December 11, 2018, 12:51 PM

A jury recommends that the man who rammed his car into a crowd of people during the 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville in 2017 should spend life in prison plus 419 years behind bars.

James Alex Fields, 21, was found guilty of first-degree murder, five counts of aggravated malicious wounding and three counts of malicious wounding in the incident.

The jury reached the decision after about four hours of deliberations, according to The Associated Press. The judge in the case will ultimately hand down the sentence.

Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer who was killed in the crash, spoke after the sentencing of how she "trusted the system of justice to handle what it needed to handle."

"I thank the jury for their careful and thoughtful work," she said. "In the end, the hands of justice say he needs to be kept away from society for a while, and I'm content with that."

PHOTO: People fly into the air as a vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12, 2017.
People fly into the air as a vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12, 2017. The nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. There were several hundred protesters marching in a long line when the car drove into a group of them.
Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP, FILE

Bro said that she is "kind of running through 50 different emotions" at the moment and "it's so hard to process."

"We've all been damaged permanently but we do survive. We do move forward. We don't stay in that dark place," Bro said.

The 10 charges Fields faced in this trial in the Charlottesville City Circuit Court are separate from the 30 federal charges he faces that relate to hate crimes. One of those federal charges is eligible for the death penalty. He entered a not guilty plea in both the Circuit Court case and to the federal charges.

The sentence came the day after jurors heard victim impact statements from Bro and several people who suffered injuries in the August 2017 crash.

The Associated Press reported that Bro said Fields was trying to "silence" her daughter and "I refuse to allow that."

"I don't hate Mr. Fields ... I'm leaving him in the hands of justice," she said.

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