James A. Fields, Jr. Is Convicted Of First-Degree Murder After Killing Heather Heyer In Charlottesville
James Alex Fields, Jr. was convicted of first-degree murder and eight counts of malicious wounding on Friday, little over a year after driving his car into counter-protesters at 2017’s Unite The Right Rally in Charlottesville, VA, resulting in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer and the injury of some 35 counterprotesters, the Washington Post reports.
Defense attorneys for Fields argued that he caused the deadly crash out of “fear and confusion” and that he “regretted his actions immediately.” Prosecutors proved pre-meditation using video of the scene, along with an Instagram post from months earlier that depicted protesters being run over by a car, captioned, “You Have the Right to Protest, But I’m Late for Work.” During the course of the trial, the prosecution painted Fields as an “enraged” man. A video showed that there were no counterprotesters around his car as he backed up and then drove at high speed into the crowd.
Fields’ sentencing hearing is scheduled for Monday, December 10. He will also be prosecuted for federal hate crimes, which carry the possibility of the death penalty, at a date that is yet to be determined.
Other lawsuits related to the riots are still pending, including that of Jason Kessler, who is credited with organizing the rally. Charlottesville courts will also decide whether statues of confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, whose proposed removal sparked the riots, will be removed in January.