Preston sentenced on firearms charge from Unite the Right rally

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A man who pleaded no contest to a firearms charge in connection with the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville has been sentenced to prison.

Richard Preston was sentenced to eight years, four of which he will serve in prison and four on probation.

His attorney argued Preston only used his gun to protect himself and his friends from a makeshift flamethrower that was used by counter-protester Corey Long.

However, the prosecution argued video evidence showed Preston was not afraid and actually seemed boastful of his gun as he shouted racial slurs.

In the end, the judge agreed that Preston did not seem threatened.

Joseph Platania, the Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney, said this is a step forward.

"Judge Moore commented it was a difficult case and there was aggravation and mitigation and I think he did a careful job of considering everything he heard and I think it was a fair sentence," said Platania.

Preston did have one witness named Daryl Davis. He was an African-American man that said he took Preston to the African American Museum in Washington, D.C. to help him understand the history of slavery and civil rights.

Moore said that did not change what Preston did on Aug. 12, 2017, concluding it was clear he was looking for a fight that day.

In May, Preston pleaded no contest to a charge of firing a gun within 1,000 feet of a school.

No one was injured in that incident.

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