The Associated Press reports James Alex Fields Jr. received the sentence Friday afternoon, about three months after he pleaded guilty to 29 federal hate crime charges. He accepted the plea deal in order to avoid facing the death penalty.
The 22-year-old avowed neo-Nazi is accused of intentionally plowing his vehicle into a group of counter-protesters at the white supremacist demonstration. The attack resulted in dozens of injuries as well as the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
Federal prosecutors pointed to Fields' history of racist and anti-Semitic behavior, and said he has never displayed any remorse for his hateful, violent actions.
"Life imprisonment is the only appropriate sentence for the defendant," federal prosecutors wrote in a memo.
Fields' attorneys argued that the defendant should receive a lighter sentenced due to the his age and mental health issues. "No amount of punishment imposed on James can repair the damage he caused to dozens of innocent people," Fields' attorney wrote. "But this Court should find that retribution has limits. The essential property of mercy is that it applies to the undeserving."
A federal indictment states that shortly before the Unite the Right rally, Fields took to social media and "expressed and promoted his belief that white people are superior to other races and peoples; expressed support of the social and racial policies of Adolf Hitler and Nazi-era Germany, including the Holocaust; and espoused violence against African Americans, Jewish people and members of other racial, ethnic and religious groups he perceived to be non-white."
Fields will be sentenced July 15 on separate state charges related to the same incident. A jury has recommended a life sentence, plus 419 years.