Charlottesville Rally Car Attacker James Alex Fields Receives Life Sentence

The man who drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters at 2017 "Unite the Right" rally, killing Heather Heyer, has been sentenced to life in prison.

James A. Fields, Jr. turned a contentious political showdown into a crime scene back in August of 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia. When the "Unite the Right" rally met with counter-protesters, Fields drove his Dodge Challenger intentionally into a crowd, killing 32-year-old Heyer and injuring 26 others. According to a report by CBS News, Fields was sentenced to life in prison on Friday.

Fields pleaded guilty to 29 of his 30 federal hate crime charges back in March. The 22-year-old is an avowed white supremacist, who admitted to holding and promoting violent racist views, and spreading them online to the best of his ability. Prosecutors initially wanted the death penalty for Fields, but settled for life in prison in exchange for a guilty plea.

"I apologize for the hurt and loss I've caused," Fields said in court on Friday. "Every day I think about how things could have gone differently and how I regret my actions. I'm sorry."

Victims, their family members and witnesses also spoke in court on Friday, and many did not seem to accept Fields' apology. Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, told reporters afterwards that she did not believe he was truly sorry.

"That was a last ditch attempt to get a reduced sentence-- he's the least sincere person I've ever met," Bro said.

However, in the courtroom Bro added that she was not disappointed in the sentence, and she still hoped that Fields would change.

"I never wish for the death penalty and still don't," she said. "I would like to see him change in time from a white supremacist to someone who helps bring others away from white supremacy."

"You could have done anything else but what you did," added witness and activist Rosia Parker. "So, yeah, you deserve everything that you get."

Prosecutors presented evidence showing that Fields' white supremacist beliefs go back years, and his dedication to them grew over time. The FBI learned that he had taken a high school field trip to the Nazi concentration camp Dachau, and his classmates described him as "like a kid at Disney World."

"This is where the magic happened," Fields reportedly stated inside the camp.

Fields' charges included 29 counts of hate crime, and one count of "racially motivated violent interference." He pleaded guilty to all but one, and his attorney did their best to get him less than a life sentence.

"No amount of punishment imposed on James can repair the damage he caused to dozens of innocent people. But this Court should find that retribution has limits," wrote Fields' attorneys.

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Fields also received a separate charge of first-degree murder from the state of Virginia. He will be sentenced on that count next month.