Neo-Nazi Who Murdered Heather Heyer In Charlottesville Sentenced To Life
“You don’t get to knock my child down and silence that voice without 500 more raising up. Knowing that he won’t be out again to cause more harm to more people helps.”
On Friday, a federal judge sentenced self-proclaimed neo-Nazi James Fields Jr., 22, of Toledo, Ohio to life in prison without the possibility of parole for killing activist Heather Heyer and injuring dozens more at the Charlottesville, Virginia rally in 2017.
At the rally, Neo-Nazi’s were caught on film chanting chilling phrases like “Jews will not replace us” and the Nazi “Blood and Soil” tagline.
The August 2017 Unite The Right rally gained even more notoriety when United States President Donald Trump initially stated that there were “some very fine people on both sides” after the murder of Heather Heyer at the rally. Trump publicly retracted his statements, prior to allegedly regretting doing so; according to leaks within his own White House administration.
The defendant was 20-years-old when he killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer by driving his vehicle through a crowd of counter-protesters, who were there to present an anti-racist message in response to those attending the Unite The Right rally. Heather was known to be an avid Bernie Sanders supporter.
“Just watching them is terrifying,” said U.S. District Judge Michael Urbanski in reference to the video showing the murder of Heather Heyer, and injury of multiple others. “The release of the defendant into a free society is too great a risk.”
A plea deal agreed to in March, eliminated the possibility of the death penalty, and initially lead to a sentencing agreement on a life sentence between the defendants’ lawyers and federal prosecutors. The deal saw the defendant plead guilty to 29 out of 30 federal hate crime charges. However, last week the defendants’ legal team asked for a shorter sentence, citing his age (22) and a history of mental illness as factors deserving consideration.
Prosecutors argued Fields’ crimes were “so horrendous — and the maiming of innocents so severe — that they outweigh any factors the defendant may argue form a basis for leniency,” according to a sentencing document filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Kavanaugh before the Friday hearing.
“It was cold-blooded. It was motivated by deep-seated racial animus,” Thomas Cullen, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia, told reporters gathered outside the courtroom on Friday. “[It was] a hate-inspired act of domestic terrorism.”
Earlier this year the defendant was already convicted of state charges related to the murder of Heather Heyer. The jury recommended a life sentence and an additional 419 year, and $480,000 in fines. He will face sentencing for the state charges on July 15th.
Heather Heyer’s Mother Responds
Heather Heyer’s mom, Susan Bro, spoke to the media, immediately after the sentence was rendered:
“I’m very happy got life in prison across the board. I did not want the death penalty blood on my hands. He probably deserved it, but that really wouldn’t accomplish anything. I apologize to the taxpayers for saddling you with this additional burden. But, in the long run it was a judge’s call.
“The last time I saw my daughter was to identify her body. And to sign the papers for her to be cremated, and I held her bruised hands and bruised arm and I said, ‘I’m gonna make this count for you.’ And that’s what I’ve done and I will continue to do.
“You don’t get to knock my child down and silence that voice without 500 more raising up. Knowing that he won’t be out again to cause more harm to more people helps. Knowing that there’s a clear message has been sent hoping to prevent other deaths; that helps. Other than that, I’m kind of done with him and I’m moving on with my my life I have things to do.”