Jury recommends life sentence plus 419 years for Fields

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A jury wants James Fields, convicted of killing paralegal Heather Heyer during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, to serve life in prison on the murder charge, it decided Tuesday.

People who attended the white nationalist rally with Fields testified earlier in the trial that Fields seemed exactly like everyone else at the "Unite the Right" event. Virginia judges usually impose the sentence recommended by juries.

The jury also recommended a sentence of 70 years each on five counts of aggravated malicious wounding, 20 years each on three counts of malicious wounding and 9 years for hit and run, as well as $480,000 in total fines.

On Friday, the same jury found Fields guilty of first-degree murder on its first day of deliberations following a trial of almost two weeks.

Fields' lawyers argued that he acted in self-defense and out of fear when he rammed his auto into a crowd.

Jurors concluded this was a premeditated killing that also injured dozens of others. In an attack that killed a 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer, Fields sped down a narrow street packed with counterprotesters, many who were on their way home after authorities shut down the demonstration.

Peterson called the last 16 months of her life a "nightmare" and said her 7-year-old son fears going out in public because someone might attack him. Judges in Virginia often impose the sentence recommended by juries. Virginia judges typically follow a jury's recommendation and can not increase the penalty beyond it. Jurors had the option of 20 years to life on the first degree murder charge, plus additional time on the other counts.

James Alex Fields, Jr.

The mother of a woman killed by a man who drove his vehicle into counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally says she is "content" with a jury's recommendation that he spend the rest of his life in prison. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 29, 2019.

Bro said not being able to talk to her daughter is what hurts the most but said the verdict is a fitting tribute to Heyer's legacy. "We do move forward", Bro said.

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Anna Malinowski, of Show Up for Racial Justice Charlottesville, said police and other Charlottesville officials had to face up to "the mistakes that they made that led up to this happening". Her right leg was shattered, and she's had five surgeries to try to fix it.

She also called to continue Heyer's social justice work. "Mr. Fields tried to silence her".

A psychologist for the defense, Daniel Murrie, said that Fields has a long history of mental health issues, including volatile outbursts.

A jury in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Friday found James Fields, 21, of OH, guilty of first-degree murder and nine other crimes in the killing of Heather Heyer, 32, and injuring of 19 other people after police had declared an unlawful assembly and cleared a city park of white supremacists gathered for the "Unite the Right" rally.

A video of Fields shown to the jury during the first phase of the trial showed him sobbing and hyperventilating after he was told a woman had died and others were seriously injured.

"Look at the circumstances as they appeared to him", Lunsford said.

The jury reached its sentencing verdict shortly before noon Tuesday, after about four hours of deliberations over two days. But his ideology did not come up in testimony at the trial, which focused mainly on his actions that August afternoon and the devastating consequences for his victims.

Hundreds of white supremacists descended on the city for the rally, nominally in support of Charlottesville's statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, which officials plan to take down if they win a pending lawsuit over the issue.

The event proved a critical moment in the rise of the "alt-right", a loose alignment of fringe groups centered on white nationalism and emboldened by President Donald Trump's 2016 presidential victory. Some dressed in battle gear.

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