James Alex Fields Jr., driver in deadly Charlottesville car attack, gets second life sentence

A Virginia judge gave Fields an additional life sentence, plus 419 years, on state charges for killing one and injuring dozens at the 2017 Unite the Right rally.
Image: James Alex Fields Jr.
James Alex Fields Jr. at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, 2017.Eze Amos / Reuters file

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By Doha Madani

The driver who plowed his car into a group of counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, killing one and injuring dozens, was given a second life sentence Monday on state charges.

A judge already sentenced Fields to life June 28 after he pleaded guilty to federal charges.

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James Alex Fields Jr. was given the additional sentence of life plus 419 years on Monday by Judge Richard Moore after he was convicted by a Virginia jury in December, NBC Washington reported. The sentence was recommended by the jury, but state law allowed the judge to go lower than their recommendation if he saw fit.

The sentence Monday is largely symbolic considering the previous life sentence, NBC Washington reports.

The Virginia jury found that Fields had purposefully rammed his Dodge Challenger into the crowd of counterprotesters following the rally. The "Unite the Right" protesters were there in part to fight the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Civil rights activist Heather Heyer died from blunt force injury to the chest.

Star Peterson, one of the injured, had to undergo five surgeries on her right leg and uses a wheelchair and cane. Marcus Martin, a friend of Heyer's, was hit by Fields' car while pushing his wife out of the way and suffered a broken ankle, destroyed ligaments and twisted tibia.

Fields' guilty plea in June on 29 of 30 federal hate crime charges was made to avoid the death penalty for murdering Heyer and injuring more than 30 others when he intentionally mowed them down with his car on a one-way street on Aug. 12, 2017.

The 30th charge, which included a possible death sentence, was dropped. U.S. Attorney General William Barr directed and permitted prosecutors not to seek the death penalty.