Jury recommends life in prison for James Fields Jr.

Author: CBS News
This photo provided by the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail shows James Alex Fields Jr., who was charged with second-degree murder and other counts after authorities say he rammed his car into a crowd of protesters Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Va., where a white supremacist rally took place. (Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail via AP)

A jury has recommended life in prison plus 419 years for James Alex Fields Jr., who was convicted of murder for driving his car into counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last August.

Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal and civil rights activist, was killed, and nearly three dozen others were injured. The jury made its recommendation on Tuesday, a day after listening to emotional statements from survivors who described devastating injuries and complicated recoveries.

The jury reached its sentencing verdict shortly before noon Tuesday, after about four hours of deliberations over two days. Jurors also recommended 70 years for each of five malicious wounding charges, 20 for each of three malicious wounding charges, and nine years on one charge of leaving the scene of an accident.

The same jury convicted Fields of first-degree murder and other felonies on Friday, rejecting his lawyers’ arguments that he had acted in self-defense.

Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, spoke to CBS News on the anniversary of her daughter’s death. She said it was “difficult to say” if the country had made progress since the deadly attack.

“What appeared to be closer together a year ago was not truly close together. It was more of an artificial covering over deep-seated wounds, a deep seated-infection in our society,” Bro said. “I think last year’s eruption gives us a little better understanding of how bad it is so that we can gradually and slowly heal. If you rush to heal, if you rush to grab each other and sing Kumbaya, we will be back here in a few years.”

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