Not Guilty Plea in Charlottesville Rally Death Case

Jul 6, 2018

James Fields
Credit Mug Shot

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - An Ohio man has pleaded not guilty to federal hate crime charges in a deadly car attack on a crowd of protesters opposing a white nationalist rally in Virginia last year.

Wearing handcuffs and shackles, 21-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. of Maumee, Ohio, entered the plea Thursday in U.S. District Court in Charlottesville.

Fields told the judge that he is under treatment for several mental disorders.

He said in court Thursday that he is being treated for bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression and ADHD, and is taking medication. But he told U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel Hoppe during a brief hearing in Charlottesville that the drugs do not impair his ability to understand the charges against him.

Prosecutors say Fields rapidly accelerated his car into a racially diverse group of protesters Aug. 12, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring dozens more.

Some survivors of the attack were among those in the courtroom.

Last week's indictment charges Fields with 30 federal crimes. He also is charged under Virginia law with murder and other crimes.

One of the federal charges Fields faces carries the death penalty, although prosecutors have not decided yet whether they will seek that punishment.