Charlottesville Neo-Nazi Who Killed Heather Heyer Will Likely Serve Life in Prison

On Tuesday, a Virginia jury suggested sentencing 21-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. to life in prison. The self-avowed neo-Nazi was found guilty of first-degree murder as well as nine other crimes.

James Fields
Eze Amos/AP via NPR

Charlottesville Vehicle Attack

In August of 2017, a gathering of white supremacists – “Unite the Right” – took place in Charlottesville, Virginia. Fields, one of the event’s attendees, maliciously drove his vehicle into a crowd of protestors during the rally. In doing so, he killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injured 35 others.

Though it happened more than a year ago, the attack is still fresh in the memories of many.

President Trump was also heavily criticized for initially claiming there were “fine people on both sides” of the protests. Essentially, the “sides” represented in Charlottesville were ultimately neo-Nazis and their opponents.

Recommended Sentencing

Four days after finding Fields guilty on multiple charges, the jury weighed in on his sentencing. In addition to a life sentence for his first-degree murder conviction, they also suggested adding another 419 years and $480,000 in fines.

The Associated Press reported they recommended “70 years for each of five malicious wounding charges, 20 for each of three malicious wounding charges, and nine years on one charge of leaving the scene of an accident.”

Significant Testimonies

Prior to arriving at this recommendation, jurors heard testimony from several victims involved in the attack. Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, also gave an emotional testimony.

According to the Times-Dispatch, a psychologist “testified that Fields was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizoid personality disorder at the ages of 6 and 14, respectively.”

Attorneys for Fields notably did not dispute the actions he took. Instead, they suggested he was intimidated by the crowd and acted in self-defense.

Response to the Decision

“I trusted the system of justice to handle what it needed to handle,” Bro said after the decision was announced on Tuesday. “I was not going to be consumed by hatred for this young man.”

Fields’ representatives, however, did not speak to reporters.

Sentencing Hearing Scheduled for March

Judge Richard Moore will make the final decision with regards to Fields’ sentencing on March 29, 2019.

In addition to these convictions, Fields will also face federal hate crime charges. To those, he has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, such crimes do allow for the death penalty.