BREAKING NEWS One person critically injured in Research Park Blvd. wreck Full Story

Heather Heyer's killer facing centuries in prison, but his legal saga isn't over

A jury has ...

Posted: Dec 12, 2018 5:38 PM
Updated: Dec 12, 2018 5:38 PM

A jury has recommended centuries in prison for James Fields, convicted of killing Heather Heyer at a white nationalist rally, but the justice system is far from done with him.

The sentence, put forth by a Charlottesville, Virginia, jury Tuesday, awaits a judge's approval, which is expected March 29, and the 21-year-old is due in federal court next month for a proceeding in his hate crimes trial as well.

2017 Charlottesville white nationalist rally

Charlottesville

Civil disobedience

Continents and regions

Court trials

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Crimes against persons

Criminal law

Criminal offenses

Discrimination

Hate crimes

Heather Heyer

Homicide

Indictments

Law and legal system

Misc people

North America

Protests and demonstrations

Racism and racial discrimination

Right-wing extremism

Societal issues

Society

Southeastern United States

The Americas

Trial and procedure

United States

Violence in society

Virginia

White supremacy and neo-Nazism

After finding Fields guilty in Heyer's death last week, the jury in his state trial suggested the judge sentence the defendant to life in prison for the murder charge, plus an additional 419 years on several other counts. Jurors also want him to pay $480,000 in fines for his actions at the August 2017 "Unite the Right" rally.

Mom: Verdict shows 'we will not tolerate hate'

Commonwealth's Attorney Joe Platania called the verdict "Charlottesville's small part in rejecting and holding accountable those whose violent acts against others are fueled by hatred."

Judge Richard Moore can either rubber stamp or overrule the verdict. He will also decide if the sentences run consecutively or concurrently.

Before learning his official fate in the state trial, however, Fields will appear in US District Court to answer to 30 hate crime charges related to Heyer's killing and the injuries the state found him guilty of committing.

A status conference in that case is scheduled for January 31. Fields has pleaded not guilty to the hate crime charges.

According to the federal indictment, before the August 12, 2017, rally, Fields took to social media and "expressed and promoted his belief that white people are superior to other races and peoples; expressed support of the social and racial policies of Adolf Hitler and Nazi-era Germany, including the Holocaust; and espoused violence against African Americans, Jewish people and members of other racial, ethnic and religious groups he perceived to be non-white."

The day before the rally, as Fields was preparing to leave his home in Maumee, Ohio, to travel to Charlottesville, he received a text from a family member urging him to be careful, the indictment says.

"We're not the ones who need to be careful," Fields responded, attaching a photo of Hitler, according to the indictment.

Once in Charlottesville, he joined protesters -- gathered to denounce the removal of a Confederate statue from a city park -- in "chants promoting or expressing white supremacist and other racist and anti-Semitic views," the indictment says.

Later that day, after police declared the rally an unlawful assembly and ordered protesters to disperse, Fields began driving the streets of Charlottesville in his Dodge Challenger, eventually arriving at the narrow, one-way Fourth Street, where he encountered a "racially and ethnically diverse crowd of individuals" at the bottom of a hill, the indictment says.

Read the indictment

"Many of the individuals in the crowd were chanting and carrying signs promoting equality and protesting against racial and other forms of discrimination," according to the indictment.

Fields drove toward the crowd, then backed up a hill on Fourth Street and came to a stop.

"Fields rapidly accelerated, through a stop sign and across a raised pedestrian mall, and drove directly into the crowd. Fields's vehicle stopped only when it struck another vehicle near the intersection of Fourth and Water Streets. Fields then rapidly reversed his car and fled the scene," the indictment says.

"As Fields drove into and through the crowd, Fields struck numerous individuals, killing Heather Heyer and injuring many others."

The indictment charges him with a hate crime act resulting in death, bias-motivated interference with a federally protected activity resulting in death and 28 counts of a hate crime act involving an attempt to kill.

Possibly providing a peek into his legal strategy on the federal charges, Fields' legal team during his state trial claimed their client believed he was acting in self-defense.

Defense attorneys also presented testimony from University of Virginia psychologist Daniel Murrie, who said Fields had a family history of mental illness, was prescribed antipsychotic medication at age 6 and was diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder at 14.

"Mr. Fields did not come to Charlottesville in good mental health. In fact, he came to Charlottesville not having taken medication in two years," a defense attorney argued. "On August 12, he was a mentally compromised individual."

Murrie determined that Fields was legally sane at the time of the attack, which is why the state prosecution was able to proceed.

Huntsville
Scattered Clouds
76° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 76°
Florence
Broken Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 75°
Fayetteville
Broken Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 75°
Decatur
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 74°
Scottsboro
Scattered Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 73°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 49892

Reported Deaths: 1077
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6433170
Mobile4753139
Montgomery4430112
Tuscaloosa263253
Madison21199
Marshall192611
Shelby164225
Lee157237
Morgan12695
Baldwin120711
Walker106131
Elmore102920
Dallas9969
Etowah95114
DeKalb9417
Franklin93216
Autauga67614
Russell6750
Chambers67427
Unassigned65328
Butler65129
Tallapoosa62869
Limestone6223
Houston5857
Cullman5716
Lauderdale5686
St. Clair5133
Colbert4956
Calhoun4905
Lowndes48122
Escambia4808
Pike4725
Coffee4244
Jackson4182
Covington41412
Barbour3942
Dale3911
Talladega3897
Bullock37710
Marengo35211
Hale34823
Chilton3232
Clarke3126
Wilcox3038
Blount2961
Winston2965
Sumter29113
Marion27514
Pickens2696
Randolph2589
Monroe2553
Perry2362
Conecuh2308
Bibb2211
Macon2159
Choctaw21212
Greene1959
Henry1533
Washington1418
Crenshaw1273
Lawrence1250
Cherokee1237
Geneva960
Lamar871
Clay852
Fayette821
Coosa651
Cleburne421
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 61006

Reported Deaths: 738
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby13423223
Davidson13162143
Rutherford352539
Hamilton330538
Sumner189756
Williamson170816
Knox15919
Trousdale15085
Out of TN138410
Wilson114817
Putnam10117
Bradley9594
Robertson92413
Sevier9153
Unassigned9102
Montgomery7327
Lake6970
Tipton6967
Bledsoe6291
Bedford6239
Macon5977
Hamblen4724
Maury4543
Hardeman4114
Fayette3685
Madison3522
Blount3403
Loudon3322
Rhea3150
Dyer2913
McMinn27619
Cheatham2693
Washington2610
Dickson2580
Lawrence2326
Cumberland2134
Sullivan2104
Anderson1952
Jefferson1821
Lauderdale1804
Gibson1771
Monroe1556
Greene1512
Smith1502
Coffee1410
Cocke1360
Hardin1257
Warren1230
Obion1192
Haywood1183
Franklin1163
Marshall1152
Wayne1150
Carter1031
Giles1031
Hickman1030
McNairy1011
Marion944
Hawkins862
Lincoln860
DeKalb850
White853
Roane810
Overton721
Henderson710
Weakley701
Campbell691
Claiborne680
Grundy652
Chester630
Unicoi590
Grainger560
Polk550
Carroll521
Crockett523
Henry510
Cannon490
Sequatchie490
Jackson470
Johnson460
Humphreys392
Meigs380
Perry370
Morgan311
Decatur270
Fentress260
Scott260
Stewart260
Union250
Moore210
Clay200
Houston200
Benton151
Hancock110
Lewis110
Van Buren90
Pickett70

 

 

Community Events