What to Know
- James Alex Fields Jr., 22, was sentenced for killing one person and injuring dozens during the "Unite the Right" rally in 2017
- Fields plowed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing Heather Heyer, 32, and injuring more than two dozen others
- The state sentence was mainly symbolic since Fields has already received a life sentence on federal charges
An avowed white supremacist received a second life sentence plus 419 years in prison Monday for deliberately driving his car into anti-racism protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
James Alex Fields Jr., 22, received the state sentence for killing one person and injuring dozens during the "Unite the Right" rally on Aug. 12, 2017.
Last month, Fields received his first life sentence on 29 federal hate crime charges.
Judge Richard Moore followed a state jury's recommendation in handing down the sentence. Under state law, he was allowed to go lower than the recommendation, but not higher.
The state sentence is mainly symbolic given his previous sentence on the federal charges.
"For his purposes, he has one life to give, so this is a largely academic exercise," noted Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University.
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Fields, 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, killing Heather Heyer, 32, and injuring more than two dozen others.
Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, said in a victim impact statement that she hopes Fields will find "reclamation" in prison but also that he "never sees the light of day."
Jeanne "Star Peterson, who was seriously hurt by the attack, called Fields "scum."
The attack stirred racial tensions around the country. President Donald Trump sparked controversy when he blamed the violence at the rally on "both sides," a statement that critics saw as a refusal to condemn racism.
During Fields' state trial, his attorneys focused on his history of mental illness and traumatic childhood.