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Jury recommends life in prison for man who rammed crowd

Jury recommends life in prison for man who rammed crowd

James Alex Fields, who charged his vehicle into a group of counter-protesters after the 'Unite The Right' rally, received a recommended multiple life sentence from a jury today.

Following two days of deliberation, a jury recommended on Tuesday that James Alex Fields Jr, 21, also pay $480,000 (£383,000) in fines for his crimes.

It will be up to Judge Richard Moore to decide on the punishment at Fields' sentencing, set for March 29. For the final count of leaving the scene of the accident, the jury said Fields should be imprisoned for nine years.

After the proceeding, prosecutor Joseph Platania called the jury's verdict and recommendation "a true act of public service".

The 21-year-old extremist, who is associated with the hate group Vanguard America, was charged with first-degree murder and nine other felonies after he intentionally rammed his vehicle into anti-racist counterprotesters following the "Unite the Right" rally on August 12, 2017, killing one and injuring dozens more.

"If you knew Heather, you would know that she loves everyone and all she wants is equality for everyone, no matter who you love, no matter what color you are", Blair said. "I refuse to let him".

"I don't hate him [Fields], but by God, the kid is messed up", said Susan Bro, Heather Heyer's mother, after the jury handed down its sentencing recommendation Tuesday.

Fields' lawyer Denise Lunsford called him a "mentally compromised individual" and urged the jury to consider his long history of mental problems.

Testifying for the defense, University of Virginia School of Medicine professor and psychologist Daniel Murrie told the jury that while Fields was not legally insane at the time, he has a long history of mental health issues.

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For each count of aggravated malicious wounding, of which there were five, he was sentenced to 70 years in prison and a $70,000 fine.

Fields also faces a separate, federal trial for an array of alleged hate crimes related to the incident, including one offence that carries a possible death sentence.

James Alex Fields drove into the crowd demonstrating against a white nationalist protest, killing one person and injuring many more.

But Murrie, whose court-ordered evaluation of Fields included about 14 hours of jailhouse interviews, testified that Fields did not meet Virginia's legal definition for not guilty by reason of insanity. She also suffered a broken spine and still hasn't been able to return to work. He was later found to have schizoid personality disorder.

Fields had driven overnight from his hometown of Maumee, Ohio, to support the "Unite the Right" rally to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E Lee, the top general of the pro-slavery Confederacy during the 1861-1865 American Civil War.

Murrie said Fields went off his psychiatric medication at age 18 and built an isolated "lifestyle centered around being alone".

On Monday, Bro finally confronted her daughter's killer, presenting a victim impact statement. Hundreds of Ku Klux Klan members, neo-Nazis, and other white nationalists - emboldened by the election of President Donald Trump - streamed into the college town for one of the largest gatherings of white supremacists in a decade.

That trial has not been scheduled.

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