Fifteen months after an angry demonstration by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, erupted in deadly mayhem, a self-professed neo-Nazi is set to go on trial Monday, charged with killing a counterprotester and injuring 35 other people by intentionally ramming his car into another vehicle on a crowded street.
The alleged act of automotive rage by James Alex Fields Jr. on Aug. 12, 2017 – which climaxed a day of violent clashes involving hundreds of white supremacists and their opponents – left Fields, 21, charged with first-degree murder and other crimes.
Fields due to face a jury in Charlottesville Circuit Court as prosecutors, using video evidence from the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally, revive memories of racist and anti-Semitic hate spewed on the streets of the small city that is home to Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia.
The counterprotester who was killed, Heather Heyer, 32, worked for a local law firm and was remembered by friends as a committed advocate of social justice. Fields, who drove to the rally from his apartment in Maumee, Ohio, near Toledo, was described by acquaintances as being deeply fascinated by Nazi Germany, often espousing admiration for the militarism and racial-purity dogma of the Third Reich.
With tight security and an expected heavy police presence outside the red-brick courthouse on High Street, jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday morning and could last until midweek, followed by opening statements and the start of testimony Wednesday or Thursday. Judge Richard Moore has set aside 14 weekdays, until Dec. 13, for the entire proceeding.