An avowed white supremacist was sentenced to life in prison plus 419 years Monday for deliberately driving his car into a crowd of anti-racism protesters during a rally in Virginia, killing one woman and injuring dozens.
James Alex Fields Jr., 22, remained stoic as Circuit Court Judge Richard Moore formally imposed the recommendation of a state jury that convicted him in December of murder and malicious wounding charges for his actions in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017.
Fields showed no visible emotion as victims of the car attack described severe physical and psychological injuries — broken bones, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression — inflicted by Fields when he plowed his car into them.
Last month, Fields received a life sentence on 29 federal hate crime charges.
In his remarks before sentencing, Moore acknowledged Fields’ long history of mental health issues, beginning when he was institutionalized several times as a child. But he said Fields had received psychological treatment throughout his life and his mental health issues do not excuse his crimes. The judge also said there was no evidence that Fields was being threatened or attacked when he drove into the counterprotesters.
“Mr. Fields, you had choices. We all have choices,” Moore said. “You made the wrong ones and you caused great harm. … You caused harm around the globe when people saw what you did.”
Fields, an avowed white supremacist who kept a photo of Adolf Hitler on his bedside table, drove from his home in Maumee, Ohio, to attend the rally, which drew hundreds of white nationalists to Charlottesville to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The event also drew counterprotesters who demonstrated against the white nationalists.
Violent skirmishes between the two sides prompted police to declare an unlawful assembly and to order the groups to disband before the rally could even begin. Later that day, Fields plowed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters.