Charlottesville judge sentences James Fields Jr. to life plus 419 years for deadly car attack
The man who drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville was sentenced in state court to life in prison plus 419 years Monday morning.
Judge Richard Moore sentenced Fields on 10 charges, including the first degree murder of Heather Heyer. Moore handed down the same sentence that a jury recommended after Fields' December trial last year.
"I'm just relieved," said Susan Bro, Heather Heyer's mother. "It didn't end today, but I feel like he is at least in the hands of justice and I can continue to move forward with the Heather Heyer Foundation."
Bro and several victims testified during Monday's sentencing hearing. Marcus Martin went to the rally with Heyer in August of 2017. During his victim impact statement, he yelled at Fields to look him in his eyes.
"I just really needed to get a whole lot of stuff off my chest today because it has been affecting me since August 12th," said Martin. "It made my rage and anger a lot worse and it was caused by him."
Fields' defense team asked the judge to consider Fields' history of mental health problems when making his decision. Judge Moore said that none of the evidence was sufficient enough for him to alter the jury's recommendation.
Moore called Fields' actions the most "horrible crime" he has ever seen and said that he can't remember a time in his career where so many people were hurt by one single person.
The judge continued to say that the idea that Fields was acting in self defense was "ridiculous."
The prosecution emphasized that the City of Charlottesville has not been the same since Fields' decision to plow into the crowd of counter-protesters.
"This was an event that impacted not just the Charlottesville community, but it did have ripples through out the state, through out the nation and, frankly, through out the world," said Nina Antony, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney.
Fields was also charged with 30 federal hate crime charges. After entering into a plea agreement, a federal judge sentenced Fields to 29 life terms for 29 of the charges at the end of June.
"Unite the Right" attendees and counter-protesters clashed in the streets of Charlottesville, August 12, 2017.Fields was one of the avowed white supremacists who drove from his home in Ohio to Virginia for the rally. It was there he drove his car into a crowd of people, injuring dozens and killing one.
Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, was at Fields'
"The last time I saw my daughter was to identify her body and to sign the papers for her to be cremated," Bro said. "And I held her bruised hand and bruised arm and I said, 'I'm going to make this count for you.'"
Fields still has to go before a federal judge to learn how much he owes in restitution. He will serve his federal sentence first and then he will serve his state sentence. Fields does have the right to appeal his state sentence.