NATIONAL NEWS

Avowed White Supremacist Gets Life Sentence In Car Attack

Jun 28, 2019, 12:51 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:04 pm
In this handout provided by Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, James Alex Fields Jr. of Maume...
In this handout provided by Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, James Alex Fields Jr. of Maumee, Ohio poses for a mugshot after he allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters killing one and injuring 35 on August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. Fields faces charges of second-degree murder, malicious woundings and leaving the scene of an accident. The incident followed the shutdown of the 'Unite the Right' rally by police after white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the 'alt-right' and counter-protesters clashed near Emancipation Park, where a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee is slated to be removed. (Photo by Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail via Getty Images)
(Photo by Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail via Getty Images)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — An avowed white supremacist who drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters during a white nationalist rally in Virginia was sentenced to life in prison Friday on hate crime charges.

James Alex Fields Jr. of Maumee, Ohio, had pleaded guilty in March to the 2017 attack that killed one person and injured more than two dozen others. In exchange, prosecutors dropped their request for the death penalty. His attorneys asked for a sentence less than life. He will be sentenced next month on separate state charges.

Before the judge handed down his sentence, Fields, accompanied by one of his lawyers, walked to a podium in the courtroom and spoke.

“I apologize for the hurt and loss I’ve caused,” he said, later adding, “Every day I think about how things could have gone differently and how I regret my actions. I’m sorry.”

The silver Dodge Charger alledgedly driven by James Alex Fields Jr. passes near the Market Street Parking Garage moments after driving into a crowd of counter-protesters on Water Street on August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. Heather Heyer, 32 years old, was killed and 19 others injured when they were struck by Fields’ car. (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)

Fields’ comment came after more than a dozen survivors of and witnesses to the attack delivered emotional testimony about the physical and psychological wounds they had received as a result of the events that day.

The “Unite the Right” rally on Aug. 12, 2017, drew hundreds of white nationalists to Charlottesville to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

The case stirred racial tensions around the country.

Fields was charged with 29 hate crime counts and one count of “racially motivated violent interference.” He pleaded guilty to 29 of the counts.

In a sentencing memo filed in court last week, Fields’ lawyers asked U.S. District Judge Michael Urbanski to consider a sentence of “less than life.”

“No amount of punishment imposed on James can repair the damage he caused to dozens of innocent people. But this Court should find that retribution has limits,” his attorneys wrote.

Fields faces sentencing in state court on July 15. A jury has recommended life plus 419 years.

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Avowed White Supremacist Gets Life Sentence In Car Attack