Virginia jury wants life sentence for
neo-Nazi who killed protester
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[December 12, 2018]
By Gary Robertson
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (Reuters) - A Virginia
jury on Tuesday sentenced to life in prison a self-described neo-Nazi
who killed a woman when he rammed his car into a crowd protesting two
days of white supremacist rallies in the college town of
The Charlottesville, Virginia, jury urged a judge to send James Fields,
21, to prison for the rest of his life four days after finding the Ohio
man guilty of first-degree murder and nine other crimes for killing
Heather Heyer, 32, and injuring 19 people after the "Unite the Right"
gathering in August 2017.
The event proved a critical moment in the rise of the "alt-right," a
loose alignment of fringe groups centered on white nationalism and
emboldened by President Donald Trump's 2016 presidential victory.
Trump was criticized from the left and right for initially saying there
were "fine people on both sides" of a dispute between neo-Nazis and
their opponents, and subsequent alt-right gatherings failed to draw the
crowds of hundreds of people that assembled in Charlottesville.
Fields sat impassively, dressed in a light blue sweater and black-rimmed
glasses, during Tuesday's sentencing.
Judge Richard Moore said he will decide whether to accept the jury's
recommendation at a March 29 hearing. In addition to a life term for
murder, the jury suggested a total of 419 years in prison for the nine
other crimes Fields was convicted of.
Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, tearfully told the jurors on Monday that her
daughter's message of tolerance would live on.
"I trusted the system of justice to handle what it needed to handle,"
Bro told reporters after Tuesday's decision was announced. "I was not
going to be consumed by hatred for this young man."
Fields' attorneys, who did not speak to reporters after Tuesday's court
session, never disputed that Fields accelerated his Dodge Charger into a
group of counter-protesters, sending bodies flying. The lawyers instead
suggested that he felt intimidated by a hostile crowd and acted to
[to top of second column]
James Alex Fields Jr., attends the "Unite the Right" rally in
Emancipation Park, before being arrested by police and charged with
charged with one count of second degree murder, three counts of
malicious wounding and one count of failing to stop at an accident
that resulted in a death after police say he drove a car into a
crowd of counter-protesters later in the afternoon in
Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Eze
Fields, a resident of Maumee, Ohio, was photographed hours before
the attack carrying a shield with the emblem of a far-right hate
group. He has identified himself as a neo-Nazi.
He also faces separate federal hate-crime charges, which carry a
potential death sentence. He has pleaded not guilty in that case.
(Reporting by Gary Robertson, writing by Joseph Ax; editing by Bill
Berkrot, Steve Orlofsky and Grant McCool)
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