A grand jury has indicted the man accused of driving his car into a crowd of people protesting a white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia — killing a woman — on Monday for murder and nine other felonies.
The most serious charge against James Alex Fields, Jr., 20, had been upgraded Thursday from second-degree to first-degree murder. If convicted, he faces a sentence of 20 years to life in prison. A trial date has not been set, according to the Charlottesville Daily Progress.
Fields, an apparent neo-Nazi, is charged with driving his Dodge Charger into the counterprotesters on Aug. 12, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 35 other people.
Fields was arrested after fleeing the scene and has been in jail ever since.
The 20-year-old had traveled from Maumee, Ohio, to Charlottesville to attend the rally. Fields, who has a documented history of attending white supremacist rallies and posting neo-Nazi slogans to his Facebook page, was initially charged with second-degree murder, but on Thursday, Judge Robert Downer upgraded that to first-degree murder and confirmed nine other charges.
First-degree murder requires proof that the crime was premeditated, which can be just moments before the incident took place. Second-degree murder requires malice in intent, but does not involve premeditation or planning.
Four other men were indicted Monday on charges related to the August 12 white nationalist rally, according to the Daily Progress — three in connection with the beating of a black man near the rally, the other for firing a gun near a school.
Fields was in cuffs and said nothing during the preliminary court hearing, according to CBS 19. Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, was also in the courtroom, as were many victims.
During the court hearing, videos of Fields' Charger driving into the crowd and the chase afterward were shown, CBS 19 reported. In one video, people could be seen flying into the air after being hit.
A detective was asked by Fields' attorney, Denise Lunsford, to recall that the suspect cried and sobbed when he learned someone had died in the accident. She also noted that Fields asked that any ambulance that would be called for him be sent instead to aid the victims of the collision, CBS 19 reported.
Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.
Contact Michelle Broder Van Dyke at email@example.com.
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