An Ohio man pleaded not responsible to federal hate crime fees Thursday in a lethal automobile assault on a crowd of protesters opposing a white nationalist rally in Virginia.
James Alex Fields Jr. entered the plea throughout his preliminary look in U.S. District Courtroom in Charlottesville after being charged final week with 30 federal crimes within the Aug. 12 violence that killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injured dozens extra. He is also charged below Virginia regulation with homicide and different crimes.
Fields, of Maumee, Ohio, wore a gray striped jumpsuit and sat quietly, giving transient solutions to the decide’s questions. He entered the courtroom sporting handcuffs and shackles. The cuffs had been eliminated when he got here in, then re-fastened when he left. His attorneys made no request for bail.
He advised U.S. Justice of the Peace Decide Joel Hoppe that he’s being handled for bipolar dysfunction, anxiousness, melancholy and ADHD, and is taking medicine. However he additionally mentioned the medicine don’t impair his capacity to grasp the costs towards him.
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Hoppe mentioned Fields was certified to be represented by a federal public defender and appointed authorized counsel for him.
The 21-year-old defendant mentioned he has a highschool training and has labored as a safety guard.
Some survivors of the assault had been among the many dozens of individuals within the courtroom. Additionally current was Heyer’s mom, Susan Bro.
Speaking with information reporters outdoors the courthouse, Bro mentioned she anticipated a not-guilty plea at this stage of the case, however added she nonetheless “felt a little bit punched within the intestine.”
She additionally mentioned she was a bit stunned that Fields’ voice sounded “daring.”
“I simply by some means anticipated him to sound extra timid and abashed, however he didn’t sound prefer it in any respect,” Bro mentioned.
The “Unite the Proper” rally drew a whole bunch of white nationalists to the faculty city, the place officers deliberate to take away a statue of Accomplice Gen. Robert E. Lee. Lots of extra got here out to protest towards the white nationalists.
The automobile assault got here after vicious brawling broke out between white nationalists and counter-demonstrators and authorities compelled the group to disband.
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Prosecutors allege that after the group broke up, Fields drove his automobile towards the realm the place a racially various group of individuals had gathered to protest the rally. They are saying he quickly accelerated his gray Dodge Challenger into the group. The automobile then reversed and fled.
Fields, who has been described by authorities and others who knew him as an admirer of Adolf Hitler, was arrested a comparatively brief whereas later. He has been in custody because the assault.
In line with an indictment, Fields expressed white supremacist views on social media forward of the rally, equivalent to assist for Hitler’s insurance policies, together with the Holocaust.
As he ready to go away for Charlottesville, a member of the family despatched him a textual content message urging him to watch out and Fields replied, “We’re not those who must be cautious,” attaching a picture of Hitler, the indictment mentioned.
The morning of the rally, Fields engaged in chants selling or expressing white supremacist and different racist views, based on the indictment.
One of many federal fees Fields faces carries the demise penalty, though prosecutors haven’t determined but whether or not they are going to search that punishment.
The native commonwealth’s lawyer whose workplace is prosecuting the state-level fees has mentioned the federal indictment can have no impact on that pending case. Fields is ready to face trial on these fees later this 12 months.