Jury Recommends Life In Prison Plus 419 Years For White Supremacist Who Drove Car Through Charlottesville Counter Protesters
James Alex Fields still faces another trial on federal hate crime charges.
December 11, 2018 at 6:42 pm
Update (December 11, 2018): James Alex Fields, Jr., the white nationalist who drove a car into a crowd of anti-racism activists during Charlottesville's Unite the Right rally, will soon face sentencing.
The Daily Beast reports a jury in Charlottesville has recommended the supremacist serve life in prison, plus an additional 419 years behind bars. He was also found guilty of first-degree murder for the death of Heather Heyer, the activist he killed during his attack. The jury suggested the 21-year-old pay fines totaling $500,000, including $100,000 for Heyer's murder.
Victims of the attack, including Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, testified during the trial. In court, Bro said, “We are forever scarred by pain.”
Wednesday Bowie, who was severely injured during Fields' attack and who has spent the last year in hospitals recovering from her wounds, said the sentencing made her feel “the best [she’s] felt in a year in a half.”
Fields won't face sentencing until March 2019. The jury's recommendation represents the maximum punishment the judge can give him. He isn't yet finished with the courts, however, as he faces a federal trial for a 30 count hate crime indictment brought by the Department of Justice. A court date in that case is expected to be announced soon.
Original: The federal government has handed down 30 hate crime charges against James Alex Fields, the man accused of killing Heather Heyer and injuring several others when he drove his car through a crowd at the Charlottesville protests.
The Justice Department announced the indictment on Wednesday, June 27, according to NBC29.
Fields, 21, is charged with one count of a hate crime resulting in death, one count of racially motivated violent interference with a federally protected activity and 28 counts of hate crime acts causing bodily injury and involving an attempt to kill.
“At the Department of Justice, we remain resolute that hateful ideologies will not have the last word and that their adherents will not get away with violent crimes against those they target,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “Last summer’s violence in Charlottesville cut short a promising young life and shocked the nation. Today’s indictment should send a clear message to every would-be criminal in America that we aggressively prosecute violent crimes of hate that threaten the core principles of our nation. I want to thank the FBI as well as our fabulous prosecutors Stephen Curran, Christopher Kavanaugh and Rachel Kincaid for their hard work on this case.”
According to the indictment, Fields arrived in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, 2017, to attend the Unite the Right rally.
He was photographed holding a shield emblazoned with the logo of Vanguard America, a white supremacist group. After a series of conflicts between white supremacist groups and counter-protesters, law enforcement deemed the rally an “unlawful assembly” and made the crowd disperse.
Fields left the scene and returned in his car, where he encountered a group of counter-protesters chanting and waving signs. Parked on a narrow one-way street, Fields reversed his car to a hill on the road. He then ran a stop sign and rapidly accelerated, plowing through the crowd. Heather Heyer was killed, and several others were injured. The car only stopped when it hit another vehicle. Fields reversed the car again and left the scene.
Fields was charged with first-degree murder in a state court in January, and that trial will begin in November.