CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WRIC) – The accused gunman in the 2022 shooting that killed three University of Virginia students is now facing the most severe murder charges in the state.
Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. was first charged with second-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry, three students who were on the university’s football team, last year.
Jones, a student who was formerly on the football team, is accused of shooting five students inside a chartered bus that had just returned to the university from a field trip. Authorities and witnesses claimed Jones opened fire as students slept and targeted victims.
A special grand jury issued 13 new indictments against Jones on Sept. 6, months after it was formed to review evidence in the case.
The prosecutor in the case said Jones was indicted on six counts of aggravated murder, the most severe murder charge in Virginia, and aggravated malicious wounding charges in the shooting of the two students who were hurt.
“These new charges supersede the pending charges against Mr. Jones that were certified to the October 2, 2023, regular grand jury,” Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney James Hingeley said Friday in a release announcing the upgraded charges.
Hingeley added that the six aggravated murder indictments give his office “the widest latitude in presenting evidence, but ultimately the Commonwealth is seeking three convictions of aggravated murder, not six.”
Liz Murtagh, the lawyer in the Charlottesville Albemarle Public Defender Office representing Jones, told 8News in an email that she’s “disappointed the prosecutor chose to proceed in this manner.”
In Virginia, aggravated murder is a Class 1 felony and comes with a mandatory life sentence. Jones has also been charged with firearm charges in the case, according to Hingeley.
The case is set for a status review hearing in Albemarle Circuit Court on Oct. 2 later this year.