On Monday, James Fields, the neo-Nazi convicted in the death of Heather Heyer and the injury of multiple protesters during the 2017 Charlottesville rally, was sentenced in state court to life in prison, plus 419 years.
Fields, 22, was the man responsible for driving a car into a crowd of protesters during the white supremacist rally in 2017, injuring many and killing the 32-year-old Heyer. During trial, he admitted to intentionally driving his car into the crowd. In December 2018, he was convicted on first-degree murder charges for his role in Heyer’s death. He was also convicted of aggravated malicious wounding and leaving the scene of an accident.
In addition to Fields’ life sentence, Charlottesville Circuit Judge Richard E. Moore also demanded that Fields pay a fine of $480,000. “Today’s verdict is based on what you did,” Moore said during the sentencing hearing. “It was not a spur of the moment action.”
Many of Fields’ victims and relatives of his victims testified at the sentencing hearing at the Virginia courthouse on Monday, including Star Peterson, a counterprotestor at the 2017 Unite the Right rally who suffered injuries as a result of Fields driving his car into the crowd. “You look like a coward now that you’re not behind the wheel of a car,” she said, addressing Fields during sentencing.
Fields was one of many far-right protesters who arrived at Charlottesville for the Unite the Right rally, which took place in August 2017. He traveled from his hometown of Maumee, Ohio specifically to attend the event. During his trial, prosecutors alleged he had a history of racism, anti-Semitism and violent behavior, citing testimony from a high school classmate who claimed that Fields acted “like a kid at Disney World” during a trip to a concentration camp.
This is the second life sentence Fields has been given as a result of his actions in Charlottesville. Back in June, Fields was convicted in federal court on hate crime charges, and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Fields did not face the death penalty for the charges due to an agreement he struck with prosecutors, in which he agreed to plead guilty to 29 hate crime charges.