The Sift Here’s what we’re Sifting today

Jury recommends life sentence for Charlottesville murderer

by Lynde Langdon
Posted 12/11/18, 01:03 pm

A jury has recommended a sentence of life in prison plus 419 years for a man convicted of murdering a counterprotester at a white nationalist rally in August 2017 in Charlottesville, Va. James Alex Fields Jr. was found guilty last week of first-degree murder and other charges for driving his car into a crowd at the rally, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring others.

The jury could have suggested a sentence ranging from 20 years’ imprisonment to life, with extra time for the injury-related charges. The defense argued during the sentencing hearing that Fields had a lifelong mental illness and believed he was acting in self-defense. Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, told the jury her daughter’s death has been like an “an explosion in our family.” Jeanne “Star” Peterson said her life has been “a living nightmare” since she was hit by Fields’ car, which caused massive injuries to her leg and spine.

A judge will formally sentence Fields at a later date and can impose the recommended prison time or something less. The crime did not meet Virginia requirements for a possible death sentence, but Fields could face the death penalty in a separate federal trial on hate crime charges.

Read more from The Sift Sign up for The Sift email
Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

Read more from this writer