The 21-year-old avowed neo-Nazi who murdered a woman when he plowed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters last year at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.
A jury in Charlottesville said Tuesday that James Alex Fields Jr. should be sentenced to life plus 419 years in prison and $480,000 in fines, for killing Heather Heyer and seriously injuring 35 others.
Judge Richard Moore will decide whether to sign off on the recommended sentence at a hearing on March 29.
The life sentence was in response to Fields’ first-degree murder conviction. The jury arrived at 419 additional years, The Associated Press reports, by recommending “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.”
A day earlier, jurors heard emotional testimony from Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, and from several victims struck by Fields on Aug. 12, 2017, during the Unite the Right rally that weekend.
“Heather was full of love, justice and fairness,” Bro said, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “Mr. Fields tried to silence her. … I refuse to let him.”
Bro also told the jury that she does not hate Fields for killing her daughter, a loss she described as an “explosion” that has blown up her family.
Meanwhile, Fields’ attorneys asked the jury to consider their client’s mental state on the day of the murder. A psychologist “testified that Fields was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizoid personality disorder at the ages of 6 and 14, respectively,” the Times-Dispatch reported.
Fields was convicted last week of first-degree murder along with several counts of aggravated malicious wounding, malicious wounding and leaving the scene of an accident. Defense lawyers had argued that he acted in self-defense.
Fields also faces federal hate crime charges, which allow for the death penalty.
Reporter Whittney Evans of member station WCVE contributed to this story.
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