Charlottesville auto attacker sentenced to life in prison

Driver who killed Heather Heyer at Charlottesville counterprotest sentenced to life in prison

Driver who killed Heather Heyer at Charlottesville counterprotest sentenced to life in prison

A federal judge announced the sentence for self-proclaimed neo-Nazi James Alex Fields Jr.at a hearing on Friday morning in Charlottesville.

Urbanski heard testimony from prosecution witnesses and the defense.

Twenty victim impact statements were read in court with Susan Bro, Heyer's mother, speaking last.

Bro said she would like to see Fields imprisoned for life. Quoting a classmate who went on the trip, Kavanaugh said Fields was "elated and happy" when he made the statement.

"I would like to see him grow from a white supremacist into someone who can help bring others away from white supremacy", she told the court.

"I know that he had a hard childhood". "In the space of only a few minutes, caught in circumstances he did not intend to create, he acted in an aggressive and impulsive manner consistent with his mental health history and his age". They requested to the judge that Fields', who's 22-years-old, gets the life sentence instead of the death penalty.

As images of Fields' victims and their injuries were shown to the court, sobbing occasionally broke out and many victims and their supporters left the courtroom.

They also showed the jury two Instagram posts Fields uploaded in May previous year that depicted a vehicle ramming into a group of protesters, arguing that he ultimately chose to live out that fantasy when the opportunity arose three months later. His attorneys asked for a sentence less than life.

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The car-ramming incident capped a day of tensions and physical clashes between hundreds of white nationalists, white supremacists and neo-Nazis who had assembled in Charlottesville to protest plans to remove statues of two Confederate generals, and groups of opposing demonstrators.

"You had a choice to leave Charlottesville, but you did not", said Rosia Parker, a longtime civil rights activist in Charlottesville who said she was standing near Ms Heyer when she was struck by Fields' auto.

He will be sentenced separately on state charges next month. Sentencing in that case is set for July 15.

The rally proved a critical moment in the rise of the "alt-right", a loose alignment of fringe groups centered on white nationalism and emboldened by President Donald Trump's 2016 election.

Before the Unite the Right rally, "he had never attended a political event of any kind, or really any event involving a large crowd", the defense memo says, adding that in the hours leading up to the auto attack, Fields was anxious, sleep-deprived and dehydrated.

"We're not the ones who need to be careful", Fields responded, attaching a photo of Hitler, according to the indictment. The move meant to symbolize the city's mourning for Heather Heyer, killed while protesting a white nationalist rally earlier this month.

Later, as Fields drove along the streets of Charlottesville in his Dodge Challenger, he encountered a crowd of racially and ethnically diverse people chanting and carrying signs promoting equality, the indictment says.

Numerous individuals gathered in the street when Fields mowed them down "were chanting and carrying signs promoting equality and protesting against racial and other forms of discrimination", according to the indictment on the hate crime charges.

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