James Fields pleads not guilty to hate crime charges

This was Fields’ first appearance in the federal courthouse after the Unite the Right rally


James Fields Jr. killed Heather Heyer and injured dozens more in the car attack on Aug. 12, 2017.

Alexis Gravely | Cavalier Daily

James Fields Jr. — the white nationalist demonstrator who drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters last August during the Unite the Right rally, killing one and injuring dozens — pleaded not guilty Thursday in federal court after being charged with violations of federal hate crime statutes.

Fields was indicted in late June for 29 counts of hate crime acts and one count of racially-motivated interference in federally-protected activities. In the indictment, prosecutors allege Fields carried out his attack because of “the actual and perceived race, color, religion, and national origin” of the antiracist counterprotesters on the Downtown Mall.

At maximum, Fields could face life sentences for 29 of the 30 charges brought in the indictment. The Department of Justice may seek the death penalty for the final charge, according to Brian P. McGinn, a public affairs specialist in the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia.

Fields is also being tried under state codes — his three-week jury trial is set for Nov. 26 in the Charlottesville Circuit Court.

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