Jessica Booth
Updated Dec 15, 2017 @ 1:21 pm
Fields Charlottesville driver
Credit: @CBS19News /

This past August, during a disturbing Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, a man drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors, injuring 35 people and tragically killing a 32-year-old woman named Heather Heyer. And on December 14th, a court decided that the driver, James A. Fields Jr., will be charged with first degree murder. Fields was initially going to be charged on the lesser count of second-degree murder (which would entail a lesser sentence if found guilty).

Fields is accused of purposefully driving his Dodge Challenger into a group of counter-protesters. If convicted, he could face anywhere from 20 years to life in prison.

The Unite The Right rally was organized to protest the removal of statues of Confederate generals from public parks. It was a chilling event that included white nationalist groups who shouted, “White Lives Matter” and “You will not replace us” while holding what appeared to be tiki torches. The rally quickly turned violent.

Fields had voiced racist and pro-Nazi views prior to the rally, and there’s a photo of him carrying a shield with a Confederate emblem taken the morning of Heyer’s death. Despite his argument that he had been under attack, detectives proved during the hearing on Thursday that there was no evidence of anything hitting Fields’ car before he drove it into the crowd.

Prosecutors will take the case to a grand jury on Monday, December 18th, to get an indictment, and we’ll be following this case closely. We hope that justice is served for Heather Heyer and for all her loved ones.