1st-Degree Murder Charge for Accused Charlottesville, Va., Car Plower

Albemarle-Charlottesville (Va.) Regional Jail
Albemarle-Charlottesville (Va.) Regional Jail

James Fields, the man accused of plowing his car into a crowd of counterprotesters during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., will face a new charge of first-degree murder.


According to NBC News, prosecutors announced at the beginning of a preliminary trial hearing in Charlottesville on Thursday that they wanted to upgrade an initial charge of second-degree murder in the Aug. 12 collision that killed counterprotester Heather Heyer. Judge Robert Downer Jr. approved the new charge.

Prosecutors showed surveillance videos of the crash, including one from a restaurant that shows what authorities say was Fields’ car, a Dodge Charger, heading slowly toward the group of counterprotesters. As NBC reports, the video then shows the car reversing, backing out of the frame, only to speed forward again, barreling toward the crowd.

That video prompted an outcry from the courtroom as a man cursed and yelled out, “Take me out.” According to NBC, the unidentified man and others left the courtroom.

Several of the people injured in the collision were in attendance at the trial, as was Jason Kessler, the asshole who organized the white supremacist Unite the Right rally, and who attended multiple hearings that day. Kessler was greeted with chants of “Blood on your hands” when he entered the courthouse grounds.

Prosecutors also showed photographs of Fields wearing a white polo (the white nationalist uniform of that day) and holding a Vanguard America shield. Vanguard America, a prominent hate group that has upped its recruitment tactics following Donald Trump’s campaign and subsequent election to the White House, claims that Fields is not a member of its organization.


According to NBC, Fields is being held without bond and has yet to enter a plea. Up next for the 20-year-old Ohio native and Nazi enthusiast is a grand jury indictment.

The same judge who approved the upgraded murder charge against Fields also presided over preliminary hearings for three other defendants from the violent Charlottesville rally. Among them is a Baltimore Ku Klux Klan leader, Richard Preston, who is accused of firing a gun, and Jacob Goodwin and Alex Ramos, who—along with many others—are charged in the brutal jumping of Deandre Harris in a parking garage.


Those cases will also head to a grand jury.

Read more at NBC News.

Staff writer, The Root.


Everyone interested in the development of this case should follow https://twitter.com/emilygorcenski - she is a Charlottesville activist and had this news yesterday, so she’s got her ear to the ground.