Charge against Fields upgraded to first-degree murder

Faith Castro
December 17, 2017

Prosecutors argued for the upgraded charges, which require them to show premeditation, by showing video of Fields backing up his auto before accelerating into the crowd at Fourth and Water Streets in downtown Charlottesville.

An Ohio man accused of fatally hitting a woman with his vehicle during protests in Charlottesville, Va.in August will be charged with first-degree murder. The same day, a Virginia State Police helicopter deployed in the large-scale police response to the violence also crashed, killing two troopers on board.

His attorney Denise Lunsford did not present evidence or make any arguments at the hearing, although she did cross-examine the detective.

During her cross-examination of Charlottesville Police Det.

The 20-year-old is accused of using a auto to run down Heather Heyer who was marching against the far right earlier this year.

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Mr. Fields, wearing prison stripes and a beard, sat through the hearing showing no reaction to the videos or the testimony.

This photo provided by Charlottesville, Va., authorities shows James Fields Jr., who on Thursday had the most serious charge against him upgraded to first-degree murder in the death of a woman at a Unite the Right rally. Charlottesville became a target for white nationalists after the city voted to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. "Once you talked to James for a while, you would start to see that sympathy towards Nazism, that idolization of Hitler, that belief in white supremacy", a former high-school teacher told the AP in August. The officer also testified that Fields had "a yellow substance that smelled like urine" on his clothes when he was arrested, NBC 12 reported.

Authorities had initially said that 19 people were injured, in addition to Heyer, when Fields allegedly rammed his 2010 Dodge Challenger into another vehicle on objective on a crowded street.

Walking the court back to the beginning of the attack, Young said a maroon van and a white sedan first drove down the Fourth Street crossing of the Downtown Mall toward Water Street but stopped when a large group of counter-protesters chose to walk up Fourth in the direction of Market Street. This is also significant when it comes to sentences: Fields would face life in prison without parole if found guilty of first-degree murder.

On the witness stand, Young said that Fields appeared to have traveled to Charlottesville alone. Besides first-degree murder, Fields, who lived in OH before his arrest, is charged with eight counts of "aggravated malicious wounding", meaning that at least eight of the 35 people who were hurt suffered what Virginia law describes as "permanent and significant physical impairment". Charged in cases related to the August rally are Richard Preston, who is accused of firing a gun, and Jacob Goodwin and Alex Ramos, who are accused in an attack on a man in a parking garage that was captured in photos and video that went viral. Other lesser charges against the suspect were certified. Further proceedings in each case will be scheduled at that time.

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