James A. Fields, Jr., the white supremacist who drove his car into the crowd at the infamous Unite The Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and killed counter-protester Heather Heyer, has been sentenced to life in prison plus 419 years, the Washington Post is reporting.
Back on August 12, 2017, the Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, had descended into near-riots. Ostensibly the two-day, weekend event was about protesting the removal of a statue of a Confederate general. In fact, it attracted all manner of alt-right characters, many of whom, such as Fields, were avowed white supremacists.
Horrifying scenes from the first night of the rally such as the image of angry white supremacists, many of whom were young men, holding tiki torches in front of a Charlottesville building shocked Americans. By the second day, the rally had descended into violence as protesters clashed with counter-protesters. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and ordered the crowd to disperse.
At about 1:45 p.m., as the two sides were leaving the site of the rally, a car with Fields behind the wheel was driven into a crowd of counter-protesters. The event was captured on video, which you can see below, but be warned, this video contains content that may be disturbing to some viewers.
The attack injured 28 people and killed one person, counter-protester Heather Heyer. Fields, for his part, was arrested a short time later.
Throughout his trial, Fields said nothing, instead sitting silently at the defense table with his attorney, usually looking down.
Last Friday, Fields was found guilty of one count of first-degree murder, one count of hit and run, and eight counts of malicious wounding. Then on Wednesday, the 12-member jury gave its recommendations: a life sentence for murder, plus 70 years for each of five counts of aggravated malicious wounding; 20 years for each of three counts of malicious wounding; and nine years for leaving the scene of a fatal crash, which amounts to an additional 419 years in addition to the life sentence. He was also fined $100,000 on the murder charge.
A year ago, Heather Heyer was killed while protesting white supremacy and hate. Today, her murderer was sentenced up to life in prison.— Protect Robert Mueller ✊ (@DisavowTrump20) December 7, 2018
RETWEET to honor Heather Heyer’s life and activism today. #RIP pic.twitter.com/ZaMLGnSiZ3
Wednesday Bowie, who was one of the people injured by Fields’ car, says via The Daily Beast that she welcomes the news of Fields’ sentence.
“Please know that the world is not a safe place with Fields in it.”
The jury’s sentencing recommendation is just that: a recommendation. Under Virginia law, according to AOL News, judges can sentence a convicted criminal to less time than that recommended by the jury, but not more time. Virginia judges generally follow juries’ recommendations.