Charlottesville Car Attacker Who Killed Heather Heyer Sentenced to Life in Prison

The 22-year-old Ohio man pleaded guilty to 29 federal hate crimes in March

The man who drove his car through a crowd of counter-protesters at a 2017 right-wing rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one and injuring several others, has been sentenced to life in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Virginia.

James A. Fields, Jr., of Maumee, Ohio, rammed his Dodge Challenger into a crowd, killing 32-year-old law firm employee Heather Heyer and injuring 26 others.

In March, Fields pleaded guilty to 29 federal hate crimes. The 22-year-old also admitted at the March hearing to using social media to “express and promote white supremacist views.”

According to the Attorney’s Office, Fields admitted to supporting Adolf Hitler’s Nazi-era Germany and the Holocaust. Additionally, he admitted to using social media to promote violence against African-Americans, Jewish people and other groups he “perceived to be non-white.”

“Hatred and bigotry have no place in our nation. Violent actions inspired by such warped thinking are a disgrace to our people and our values, and the Department of Justice will not tolerate such depraved acts,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband in a release on Friday.

Addressing Judge Michael F. Urbanski on Friday, Fields apologized for his actions at the 2017 rally, according to a report from CNN — though he did not face victims in the courtroom while doing so.

Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail/Getty Images

“I’d like to apologize,” the he said. “I apologize to my mother for putting her through all of this. Every day I think about my actions and how this could have gone differently. I’m sorry.”

Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, did not accept Fields’ apology.

“He’s the least sincere person I’ve ever met,” Bro told reporters after the sentencing, CNN reported. She said that she thought he should have gotten the death penalty, adding, “but it wouldn’t accomplish anything.”

According to The Washington Post, the sentencing lasted for hours, as prosecutors retold Fields’ actions in detail and shared police helicopter video of him plowing through the crowd with his Dodge Challenger back in 2017.


“That was rough,” Bro told the Washington Post. “No getting around it, that was really rough.”

Fields’ crime back in August 2017 came only hours after Virginia’s governor declared a state of emergency, after hundreds of white supremacists marched through the University of Virginia’s campus bearing torches and shouting things like “white lives matter.”

The rally, at which Heyer was counter-protesting, was against plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a Charlottesville city park.

“She died doing what was right.,” her mother said in a GoFundMe campaign page set up after her death. “My heart is broken, but I am forever proud of her.”

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