White Supremacist James Alex Fields Jr. No Longer Facing Death Penalty After Pleading Guilty To 29 Federal Hate Crimes
The charges were related to the death of Heather Heyer and injuries sustained by 28 others the during the Unite the Rally in Charlottesville.
March 29, 2019 at 3:54 pm
Admitted white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr. pleaded guilty to federal hate crime charges for driving his car through a crowd of protesters during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Fields pleaded guilty to 29 out of 30 federal charges to honor the plea agreement he entered with federal prosecutors, reports CBS News. In exchange, the last charge would be dropped to avoid the death penalty. The charges were related to the death of Heather Heyer and injuries sustained by 28 others.
Fields also admitted he "expressed and promoted" white supremacist ideas and attacked the crowd because of their race, color, religion or national origin. He told U.S. District Judge Michael Urbanski he was taking medication for several mental illnesses, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and that he receives therapy.
When Urbanski asked if he was entering the plea knowingly, he responded, “I’m feeling normal, sir.”
Fields will be sentenced on July 10.
He was found guilty of several charges including first-degree murder and aggravated malicious wounding in a state trial in December. The jury recommended life in prison plus 419 years, as Blavity previously reported. Fields is facing another life sentence for the federal charges.
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U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen believes the outcome is best for both sides.
"The defendant's hate-inspired act of domestic terrorism not only devastated Heather Heyer's wonderful family and the 28 peaceful protesters but it also left an indelible mark on the city of Charlottesville, our state and our country," Cullen said.
The plea agreement is a relief for Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, reports The Washington Post.
“There’s no point in killing him. It would not bring back Heather,” Bro said.
“It’s a relief to think we don’t have to go through another trial. It was exhausting the first time. I can get on with my life, and the other victims can, too.”
Bro hates her daughter had to die for the racial tension to be acknowledged, but she’s glad Heyer’s death served a purpose.
“Sadly, it took a white girl dying before anyone paid attention to civil rights around here,” she told reporters. “I wish we had woken up sooner.”
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