White supremacist James Alex Fields Jr, who deliberately drove his car into a crowd of counter protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia has been sentenced to life in prison for violation of federal hate crimes. In support of a rally of nazis, Fields killed activist Heather Heyer and injured over twenty others. He still faces additional charges in a Virginia state court.
Fields pleaded guilty on 29 counts. A thirtieth charge, which carried a possible death penalty, was dropped.
Prosecutors reported that Fields showed no remorse for racist and antisemitic statements, or for the injuries and death he caused at Charlottesville. The courtroom audience was stunned as prosecutors related an account of a high school trip in which Fields visited a German death camp. According to a classmate, Fields remarked: “This is where the magic happened.”
The sentencing hearing was prolonged, as twenty victim statements were read. Last to speak was the Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, the woman killed, who said, “I don’t know if Mr. Fields can ever be trusted in society. I hope he can heal someday and help others heal too.” Speaking to CNN, Bro added, “I know that he had a difficult childhood. I know that he has mental health issues. But I’ve known lots of people with those same issues who did not commit murder.” Throughout the hearing, Fields did not speak or look at any of his victims.
The state charges still facing Fields include a charge of first-degree murder and multiple counts of assault, wounding, and hit and run. A jury has already recommended a sentence of life plus 419 years on those charges.