James Alex Fields Jr., the neo-Nazi who drove his car into a crowd of anti-racism protesters at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last August, is guilty of murder.
After about seven hours of deliberation, a jury in Charlottesville Circuit Court found Fields, 21, guilty on one count of first-degree murder late Friday in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who died in the attack.
The jury also found Fields guilty on five counts of malicious wounding, three counts of aggravated malicious wounding, and one hit-and-run count.
Fields’ sentencing will begin Monday. He faces up to six life sentences and 70 years in prison, according to NBC29. Fields will also face trial on federal hate crimes charges, which could carry the death penalty.
Unite the Right began as a rally to stop Charlottesville officials from moving a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a downtown park. But it quickly devolved into pitched street battles between the hundreds of neo-Nazis, Klan members, and white supremacists who descended on the city and the anti-racism protesters who went to oppose them. As the two sides clashed, police did nothing to stem the violence.
ThinkProgress was at the scene of Fields’ car attack last year, which left Heyer dead and wounded dozens, within minutes. We were also among the first outlets to report Fields’ neo-Nazi and white supremacist beliefs.
During the trial, Fields’ attorneys argued that the chaos in Charlottesville that day made him fear for his life when he drove his Dodge Challenger into a group of unarmed protesters.
“He wasn’t angry,” Denise Lunsford, one of Fields’ lawyers, said during her closing arguments. “He was scared.”
But the evidence against him was overwhelming. Just months before the attack, Fields had shared memes on Instagram that showed a car plowing into protesters. And during a jailhouse phone call with his mother, Fields called Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, an “anti-white Communist” and “the enemy.”
When Fields’ mother pointed out that Bro had lost her daughter, Fields was defiant. “It doesn’t fucking matter,” he said. She’s a Communist.”