Charlottesville, VA – James Alex Fields, who charged his car into a group of counter-protesters after the ‘Unite The Right’ rally, received a recommended multiple life sentence from a jury today. Last week, James Fields was found guilty on all charges, including first degree murder. Today, jurors formally recommended the life sentences to the the judge, who accepted the jury’s decision.
On August 12, 2017, Fields drove his car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters, killing Charlottesville activist and paralegal Heather Heyer and seriously injuring dozens of others. He was arrested fleeing the scene and has been incarcerated ever since, becoming a martyr for the violent racist movement whose antifascist opponents he attacked that day.
The alt-right neo-Nazi from Ohio now faces a recommended sentence of life plus 419 years in prison, and has been ordered to pay a combined $480,000 in fines for the various charges. Fields was convicted at trial of 1 count of first degree murder, 5 counts of aggravated malicious wounding, 3 counts of malicious wounding, and 1 count of hit-and-run.
Fields’ defense at trial sought to convince jurors that he had been attacked by protesters before driving into the crowd, but didn’t have any luck as this theory was easily disproven by eyewitness and video evidence. Prosecutors presented evidence to prove Fields’ malicious intent that day which included memes he had sent about running protesters over with cars, a text with a picture of Hitler that he sent his mother, and prison phone calls after his arrest in which he called Heather Heyer “the enemy” and said her death “doesn’t fucking matter.”
After the jury announced their sentencing recommendation, Heather Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, addressed the media outside the courthouse. She said she was “content” with the sentence but told those gathered that they had to keep fighting for the cause her daughter died for.
Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer, addresses the press outside of Charlottesville Circuit Court. A jury just recommended that James Fields serve 419 years for crimes including murdering her daughter. #Charlottesville pic.twitter.com/Ndz4yld3IF
— C-VILLE Weekly (@cvillenews_desk) December 11, 2018
A formal sentencing hearing to adopt the jury’s sentencing recommendations will be held in Charlottesville Circuit Court in 2019.
Fields still faces a federal hate crimes prosecution being brought by the Department of Justice. His federal case is expected to go to trial next year. He is also a named defendant in the Sines v. Kessler civil lawsuit filed by survivors of his car attack which is slated to go to trial in July 2019.