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Jury recommends life in prison for man who drove car into Charlottesville crowd and killed woman

Protesters in Justice Park, Charlottesville, on Aug. 12, 2017. (Anthony Crider/Flickr)
December 11, 2018

A jury in Charlottesville has recommended life in prison for James Alex Fields Jr., the man who drove a car into a group of counter-protestors at the “Unite the Right” rally in August last year, killing a woman.

The jury also recommended that Fields serve 419 years in addition to life in prison, USA Today reported Tuesday.

Fields, 21, was found guilty of first-degree murder on Friday, CNN reported.

He was also convicted of “five counts of aggravated malicious wounding, three counts of malicious wounding and one hit-and-run count,” USA Today reported, and he additionally faces “30 federal hate-crime counts that could draw the death penalty.”

Fields pleaded not guilty.

“Federal prosecutors described Fields as a Nazi sympathizer who has advocated violence against blacks and Jews on social media and who participated in chants promoting white supremacy and racist views during the Charlottesville rally,” USA Today reported.

He drove his car into a crowd of people at the “Unite the Right” rally in August 2017 and killed Heather Heyer, 32. Dozens were also injured.

The “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally was held in Emancipation Park around a statue of the Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

The jury 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,” USA Today reported.

Last summer, it was a deadly weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a white nationalist rally spiraled out of control, resulting in the death of Heyer, when a car plowed into a group of counter-protestors on Water Street, as well as the death of two Virginia State Troopers who were patrolling the assembly in a helicopter.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said at the time that the incident and death of Heyer was “car terrorism,” The New York Times had reported, and that it could not have been prevented.

“You can’t stop some crazy guy who came here from Ohio and used his car as a weapon,” McAuliffe had said. “He is a terrorist.”

“Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, was the pilot of the Bell 407 helicopter that crashed near Old Farm Road and was engulfed in flames,” the Richmond-Times Dispatch had reported. “Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, of Quinton, who previously had served on Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s protection unit, died at the scene.”