Man who drove into Charlottesville crowd receives life for hate crimes

Thousands of flowers and messages cover the street in a makeshift memorial at the site where Heather Heyer was killed when a car hit a group of people protesting against a rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 17, 2017. Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI

June 29 (UPI) — An Ohio man received life in prison on federal hate crimes charges Friday for driving his car into a crowd full of counterprotesters during a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017.

James Alex Fields Jr., 22, received life sentences on 29 counts of hate crimes, 27 of which he will serve concurrently. The sentences will also be served concurrently with his pending sentencing on state charges.

He pleaded guilty to one count of a hate crime act that resulted in the death of Heather Heyer and 28 counts of hate crime acts that caused bodily injury and involved an attempt to kill. Fields, a self-avowed white supremacist, said he drove his car into the crowd with the intention of killing people protesting against a white supremacist rally Aug. 12, 2017.

Fields apologized for his actions during Friday’s hearing.

“Every day I think about how things could have gone different and how I regret my actions,” he said.

Heyer’s mother and father said they forgave Fields.

“I would like to see him find meds that help heal his mind,” mother Susan Bro said. “I would like to see him grow from a white supremacist into someone who can help bring others away from white supremacy.”

“I want the court and Mr. Fields to know that after everything we’ve heard today that I forgive you,” father Mark Heyer said.

A Virginia jury found Fields guilty of state charges of first-degree murder, five counts of aggravated malicious wounding, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of hit-and-run in December. The panel recommended life in prison.

Fields is scheduled to be sentenced on the state charges July 15.


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