A jury deliberated seven hours December 7 before reaching a verdict in the first-degree murder trial of self-proclaimed neo-Nazi James Alex Fields Jr. for the death of Heather Heyer: guilty.
Fields also faced five charges of aggravated malicious wounding, three of malicious wounding and one count of felony hit and run. The jury of seven women and five men found him guilty of all counts.
The decision came on the 10th day of the trial of Fields, 21, who was accused of driving his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of counterprotesters on Fourth Street August 12, 2017. The defense did not dispute that Fields was the driver of the car, but it did argue that he did so out of fear he was being attacked—an argument the jury apparently believed was unsupported by witness testimony and evidence.
The first-degree murder charge has a minimum of 20 years to up to life in prison, as do the aggravated malicious wounding charges. Malicious wounding carries a minimum of five years up to 20 years. The hit and run charge has a maximum sentence of 10 years.
Before the jury returned to the courtroom, Judge Rick Moore warned that he wanted no audible reaction in the case in which “emotions have run high.”
Fields was impassive when the verdicts were read, as he has been for the trial.
The jury must next recommend sentences, and that will take place starting Monday—although the judge reminded that with snow in the forecast for Sunday, if the weather is bad, court could be delayed.
Outside the courthouse, Al Bowie, one of those Fields was convicted of aggravated malicious wounding, said, “This is the best I’ve been in a year and a half.”
Heather Heyer’s mother Susan Bro left the courthouse without a comment.
Several activists led by Rosia Parker stood outside the courthouse with their arms raised and chanted, “They will not replace us,” and “Whose streets? Our streets.”