The Latest: Life sentence for man in Charlottesville attack

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — The Latest on the sentencing of a man who deliberately drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally (all times local):

5 p.m.

A Department of Justice official has condemned the violence committed by a white supremacist who was sentenced to life in prison for a deadly car attack at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville two years ago.

Eric Dreiband is the assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. He made his remarks at a news conference Friday after James Alex Fields Jr. was sentenced to life in prison for deliberately driving his car into a crowd of anti-racism protesters at the 2017 rally.

Fields pleaded guilty in March to 29 federal hate crime charges in the car attack. One woman was killed and more than two dozen others were hurt.

Dreiband said violence based on racism and white supremacy is “anathema to our country and our society.” He said the “bigotry and ideology” of neo-Nazism, Nazism, white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan “are a disgrace to this country.”

President Donald Trump stirred controversy after the attack when he said “both sides” were to blame for the violence. Some critics saw the remark as a refusal to condemn racism.


           2:10 p.m.

An avowed white supremacist who drove his car into a crowd of anti-racism protesters during a white nationalist rally in Virginia has been sentenced to life in prison on hate crime charges.

James Alex Fields Jr. of Maumee, Ohio, was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty in March to federal hate crime charges in an attack that killed one person and injured more than two dozen others.

He will be sentenced next month on separate state charges.

Fields apologized before the judge handed down his sentence.

The “Unite the Right” rally on Aug. 12, 2017, drew hundreds of white nationalists to Charlottesville to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Fields admitted deliberately driving his car into counterprotesters who showed up to demonstrate against the white nationalists.

The case stirred racial tensions around the country.


2 p.m.

The mother of a woman who died when an avowed white supremacist rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, says she wants James Alex Fields Jr. to spend the rest of his life in prison but hopes he also can get the help he needs.

Speaking during Fields’ sentencing hearing Friday, Susan Bro said she hopes Fields “can heal someday and help others heal.”

Her testimony was one of more than a dozen statements given by survivors and witnesses to the 2017 attack.

Fields appeared stoic, stared straight ahead and didn’t look at any of the victims.

Rosia Parker said she was standing feet away from Bro’s daughter Heather Heyer when Heyer was struck. Looking directly at Fields, she remarked that he “could have done anything else but what you did.”

“So, yeah, you deserve everything that you get.”


11:40 a.m.

Prosecutors have told a judge that an avowed white supremacist responsible for a deadly car attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, was “like a kid at Disney World” during his high school trip to a German concentration camp.

FBI Special Agent Wade Douthit read grand jury testimony Friday from a high school classmate of James Alex Fields Jr. The classmate said Fields appeared happy when touring the Dachau camp and remarked, “This is where the magic happened.”

The statement provoked audible gasps from a packed courtroom crowd that included dozens of people who were injured and the mother of a woman who was killed when Fields deliberately drove his car into a group of counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally in 2017.

The testimony came during Fields’ sentencing hearing. Prosecutors have asked for life in prison. The defense has asked for an unspecified time that is less than life.

(This item has been edited to correct the spelling of Dachau).


1:05 a.m.

Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to give a life sentence to a man convicted of hate crimes for plowing his car into a crowd demonstrating against a white nationalist rally two years ago in Virginia.

But lawyers for James Alex Fields Jr. will argue the 22-year-old man deserves some leniency because he had a traumatic childhood and a history of mental illness.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled Friday in Charlottesville.

Prosecutors argue that Fields deserves life in prison for killing a woman and injuring dozens of others when he deliberately drove into the anti-racist demonstrators on Aug. 12, 2017.

Fields’ lawyers argue that a sentence shorter than life is appropriate because of Fields’ young age and his struggles with mental illness.

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