STAFFORD, Va. – A woman convicted of a felony for throwing a cup of ice into a car that cut her off in traffic was sentenced to probation instead of prison, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Jessica Hall faced between two and five years in prison after she was convicted last month of maliciously throwing a missile — the cup of ice — into an occupied vehicle. No one was injured in the incident last summer.
"The facts of this case ... suggest that the sentence in this case should be reduced," Judge Frank A. Hoss Jr. told Hall, who thanked the judge and cried.
Hall must remain on good behavior for five years and also must pay fines and court costs.
She has been in jail since Jan. 4 and it wasn't immediately clear whether she would be released Wednesday.
Prosecutor Daniel M. Chichester said Hall's actions were serious, even though no one was injured. "It is important to remember that it is not what is thrown but the danger created by that act," Chichester said.
On a sticky day in July, Hall was driving north on Interstate 95 with her children and her pregnant sister. Traffic had slowed to a crawl when, she said, another car cut her off twice, once causing her to swerve onto the shoulder.
Angered, she flung a McDonald's cup of ice into the other car, where it flew across the driver and landed all over his girlfriend. The couple said they hadn't even noticed Hall's car until the cup landed.
The girlfriend, Eliza Fowle, defended their decision to report the crime but said she thought a prison sentence was too much punishment for her actions.
"This is just to me absolutely ridiculous," Fowle told The Washington Post. Community service would have made more sense, she said. "It's something that's going to make someone realize 'I did screw up, and I'm going to remember this, and I'm not going to do something like this again.'"
Hall, 25, of Jacksonville, N.C., is a mother of three and her husband is serving his third tour in Iraq. Speaking to the Post before the judge's decision, she said she has cried every day she has spent locked up in jail.
Planning to go to nursing school, she said she wonders what job she will be able to get once potential employers do a background check.
"Now people are going to see me as an angry, road rage, convicted felon. And it really upsets me," she told the newspaper. "I must have been wrong . . . but seriously, God. Lesson learned. Lesson learned is one hour in this place."