Jessica Hall, of Jacksonville, was convicted by a Stafford County jury of maliciously throwing a missile into an occupied vehicle, a felony in Virginia. The instructions given to the jury said that any object propelled by force can be considered a missile. In Hall's case, it was a McDonald's cup filled with ice.
The jury gave Hall the minimum sentence of two years in prison. A judge will formally impose a sentence Wednesday. Under state law, the judge can only decrease the jury's sentence. Hall, whose husband is serving his third tour in Iraq, has spent more than a month in jail.
On a sticky day in July, Hall was driving north on Interstate 95 with her children and her sister, who was six months pregnant and having early contractions. Traffic had slowed to a crawl, when, she said, another car cut her off twice. Angered, she flung the cup into the other car, where it flew across the driver and landed all over his girlfriend.
"We didn't think it would go this far," Hall told The Washington Post in an interview at the Rappahannock Regional Jail. "Two years! What did I do?"
The driver of the other car, Pete Ballin, 36, and his girlfriend, Eliza Fowle, 28, were heading home to the District after visiting her father in North Carolina.
"It was gross and sticky and got all over me and the front of our car, the dashboard and the windshield," Fowle said of the launched drink.
Fowle stands by the couple's decision to report the crime but said even she and Ballin were surprised at the conviction.
"I think that this is way too much of a punishment for her actions. This is just to me absolutely ridiculous," Fowle said. Community service would have made more sense, she said.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney George Elsasser argued in court that had Ballin been hit by the drink, he might have gotten into a serious accident with injuries.
Hall, who was driving from North Carolina to New York for a family party, said she was trying to keep up with her father's truck when Ballin cut in front of her the second time, causing her to swerve onto the shoulder.
She said her next move was wrong, but she never thought it would land her in jail for the first time in her life.
"I must have been wrong . . . but seriously, God. Lesson learned," she said.