UVA shooting suspect appears in court as students try to move forward

We begin in Charlottesville where Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. made his first appearance in court today.
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 9:09 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 8, 2022 at 10:18 AM CST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WWBT) - Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., the man accused of killing three University of Virginia football players last month, appeared in court Thursday for a status hearing.

Albemarle County Sheriff’s deputies surrounded the courthouse as Jones was ushered into the building out of view from news cameras.

Jones appeared in black-and-white prison garb with orange crocs and was alongside his public defender Liz Murtaugh.

During Jones’s arraignment hearing in November, he told the judge that it would take him about two weeks to secure his own legal counsel. The judge appointed Jones legal counsel if it took him longer than two weeks to secure his own attorney.

Murtaugh said at any point in time, Jones can get his own attorney, but for the time being, the public defender’s office has been appointed to represent him.

A preliminary hearing was initially set for Feb. 23, 2023. Prosecutors said Thursday they want as much time as possible to gather witnesses for future court hearings. In response, the judge moved the preliminary hearing back one month.

The shooting happened around 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 13 at a parking garage behind UVA’s drama building. Police say the students were returning from a field trip at the time.

When police arrived at the crime scene, Devin Chandler and D’Sean Perry were found dead on the bus, while Lavel Davis Jr. died from his injuries at the hospital. Two other victims were also taken to the hospital.

The now 23-year-old is facing multiple charges, including 2nd-degree murder and malicious wounding charges.

Despite the University coming together under the banner of UVA Strong in the days following the mass shooting, students like Christine Lee, currently in the middle of exam week, say the end-of-semester stress compounded by grief is making it tough to find closure.

“It’s been really strange even after Thanksgiving break just because people are trying to find a balance between trying to return to the norm and taking time to grieve,” Lee said. “Especially because we know that this kind of stuff happens all the time all over the country, and now that we’ve experienced it for ourselves.”

“We’ve been trying to just like move on as much as we can, and while like things will never be the same, we don’t really have like an option,” said second-year student Amelie Gratea. “We kind of have to keep moving forward just because of like the class rigor and whatnot, and I think we’re like finally or like a lot of us are starting to like try to work past it so we can get back to as close as we can things were to not let him have like that much power over us in that way.”

Both Murtaugh and Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney James Hingley declined to speak about the facts of the case following Thursday’s status hearing.

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for 9 a.m. March 30, 2023, at Albemarle Charlottesville General District Court.