Charlottesville Killer James Alex Fields Now Faces First-Degree Murder Charge

Cheryl Sanders
December 16, 2017

The man accused of driving into a crowd protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville faces a new charge of first-degree murder after a court hearing Thursday in which prosecutors presented surveillance video and other evidence against him.

Fields' case will now be presented to a grand jury for an indictment.

The Commonwealth's Attorney's Office had initially filed second-degree murder, punishable by five to 40 years in prison, as the most serious charge against Mr. Fields.

Fields, who traveled to Charlottesville from his home in Maumee, Ohio, has a long history of fascination and admiration for the racist ideology and militarism of Nazi Germany, according to acquaintances in Kentucky, where he grew up, and Ohio, where he moved as an adult.

Authorities say Fields barreled into the crowd August 12 after attendees of a white nationalist rally had been forced to disband. The helicopter had been monitoring the violence, and prosecutors questioned Charlottesville Police Detective Steven Young about the video as it played.

Detective Young, the sole witness at the hearing, said under questioning by Mr. Fields's lawyer, Denise Lunsford, that investigators had found no evidence that Mr. Fields was affiliated with any of the groups assembled that day.

Fields could not be seen driving the vehicle in either video, but the aerial shot showed Fields getting out of the auto and on the ground after the collision. Fields sat quietly in a striped jumpsuit with his hands cuffed.

Exclusive photographs obtained by CNN appear to show Fields marching alongside neo-Nazis and other white supremacists at the rally in Charlottesville.

Fields was shocked, and cried and sobbed, when he later learned of the fatality, Young said.

James Alex Fields Jr., was charged with second-degree murder, after the incident, as well as three counts of malicious wounding and failing to stop at the scene of a crash that resulted in a death.

Jason Kessler, the main organizer of the Unite the Right rally, was in court to watch the proceedings. Richard Preston is accused of firing a gun, while Jacob Goodwin and Alex Ramos are accused of attacking a man in a parking garage in a confrontation caught on videos and photos that subsequently went viral.

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