Charlottesville, Virginia killer sentenced to life in prison

Monday, July 1, 2019

On Friday, United States Federal District Judge Michael Urbanski sentenced Ohio man James Alex Fields, now 22, to life in prison without the possibility of parole for driving his car into a crowd of people who were counter-protesting against white supremacists attending the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In that event, Fields, a self-described Neo-Nazi, killed a woman named Heather Heyer and injured at least nineteen others.

The hearings and motions leading up to the announcement included video footage of the collision between Fields' car and the crowd, testimony from eyewitnesses, an apology from Fields, and requests for leniency from Fields' lawyers, who argued his history of mental illness.

Last March, Fields made an arrangement with prosecutors to plead guilty to 29 out of 30 federal hate crime charges on condition they would not seek the death penalty. Susan Bro, Heather Heyer's mother, told reporters she considered the deal acceptable, saying executing Fields would not bring her daughter back.

The Unite the Right rally drew national attention within the United States partly because President Donald Trump claimed there were "fine people on both sides," meaning both the white supremacists and the counter-protesters, for which he was criticized.

This sentence applies to the federal charges against Fields, those issued by the United States' central government. He has already been found guilty of criminal charges under the laws of the State of Virginia, with a jury-recommended sentence of life plus 419 years and fines of nearly half a million US dollars. State sentencing has been scheduled for July.

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