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The Journal Gazette

  • A Charlottesville Sheriff's van carrying James Alex Fields Jr., approaches the temporary General District Court courthouse in Charlottesville, Va., Monday, July 15, 2019. Fields is due to be sentenced in state court Monday, for his role in the Unite The Right rally in 2017. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • FILE - In this Aug. 12, 2017, file photo, people fly into the air as a vehicle is driven into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. James Alex Fields Jr. Fields, who was sentenced to to life in prison on federal hate crime charges for deliberately driving his car into anti-racism protesters during a white nationalist rally in Virginia, is set to face a state judge on Monday, July 15, 2019, who could add another life sentence, plus 419 years.(Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP, File)

  • FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail shows James Alex Fields Jr. Fields, sentenced to life in prison on federal hate crime charges for deliberating slamming his car into anti-racism protesters during a white nationalist rally in Virginia is set to face a state judge who could add another life sentence, plus 419 years. Fields will be sentenced Monday, July 15, 2019, for killing one person and injuring dozens during the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017 (Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail via AP, File)

Monday, July 15, 2019 2:30 pm

Man sentenced to 2nd life term in Charlottesville car attack

DENISE LAVOIE | Associated Press

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- An avowed white supremacist was sentenced to life plus 419 years on state hate crime charges Monday for deliberately driving his car into anti-racism protesters during a white nationalist rally in Virginia.

James Alex Fields Jr., 22, received the sentence for killing one person and injuring dozens during the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017.

Last month, Fields received a life sentence on 29 federal hate crime charges.

Charlottesville Circuit Court Judge Richard Moore followed a state jury's recommendation in handing down the sentence. Under state law, he was allowed to go lower than the recommendation, but not higher.

"Mr. Fields, you had choices. We all have choices," Moore said. "You made the wrong ones and you caused great harm.... You caused harm around the globe when people saw what you did."

The state sentence is mainly symbolic given his previous sentence on the federal charges.

"For his purposes, he has one life to give, so this is a largely academic exercise," said Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University.

Fields, an avowed white supremacist who kept a photo of Adolf Hitler on his bedside table, drove from his home in Maumee, Ohio, to attend the rally, which drew hundreds of white nationalists to Charlottesville to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The event also drew counterprotesters who demonstrated against the white nationalists.

Violent skirmishes between the two sides prompted police to declare an unlawful assembly and to order the groups to disband before the rally could even begin. Later that day, Fields plowed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing Heather Heyer, 32, and injuring more than two dozen others.

The event stirred racial tensions around the country. President Donald Trump sparked controversy when he blamed the violence at the rally on "both sides," a statement that critics saw as a refusal to condemn racism.

During Fields' state trial, his attorneys focused on his history of mental illness and traumatic childhood.