Potential jurors selected for car attack trial

The 28 jurors will report Thursday, then be narrowed down to a pool of 16


James Alex Fields Jr. admitted to driving his car into a crowd of counterprotesters at the Unite the Right rally in August 2017, killing one and injuring 35 others.

Courtesy Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail

A full pool of potential jurors have been selected for the state trial of James Fields Jr., the man accused of driving his car into a crowd of people protesting the white nationalist Unite the Right rally in August 2017, injuring dozens and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

Fields is facing one count of first degree murder and five counts of aggravated malicious wounding in the Charlottesville Circuit Court — each of which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. He is also charged with one count of hit and run and three counts of malicious wounding, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. 

Judge Richard E. Moore initially called a 360-person pool of potential jurors, who were asked questions by the judge, prosecutors and defense attorneys to determine their preconceived notions or biases related to the case. By Wednesday, the group had been narrowed to 28 people. 

It will be narrowed further Thursday morning, when both the prosecutors and the defense will each be able to strike six jurors from the pool. The remaining 16 — 12 regular jurors and four alternates — will be sworn in, and the trial will commence.

The trial is scheduled to last from Nov. 26 to Dec. 14. Defense attorneys have said Fields will plead not guilty to all charges, and hinted that they may argue that Fields’ actions were done in self-defense.

Fields was also separately indicted on 30 federal charges in June, including 29 counts of hate crime acts and one count of bias-motivated interference with a federally protected activity resulting in death, which carries a maximum sentence of the death penalty. The federal trial has not yet been scheduled.

Although Fields may face the death penalty for his federal charges, the most he can be sentenced in the Charlottesville Circuit Court is to life in prison. 

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