Man Behind Charlottesville Car Attack Convicted of First-Degree Murder

James Alex Fields Jr. faces life in prison for the killing of Heather Heyer.

Heather Heyer

Image via Getty/Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency

Heather Heyer

The neo-Nazi who carried out a deadly car attack at the 2017 Charlottesville rally has been found guilty of first-degree murder.

CNN reports the James Alex Fields was convicted Friday, more than a year after he drove his vehicle into a crowd of counter-protesters at the white nationalist demonstration. Fields' attack resulted in the injuries of dozens of people as well as the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer. 

The defendant's attorneys said their client was "in a state of panic" as clashes erupted during the rally, and that he was simply acting in self-defense when he drove his car into the crowd.

"He thought people were after him," Fields' lawyer Denise Lunsford said. "The difference between a joyful crowd and an angry mob lies in the beholder."

Prosecutors argued that Fields intended to hurt the counterprotestors, as his social media accounts featured memes of protestors getting hit by cars.

"His Instagram posts tell you exactly what he thinks of the type of people who take to the streets to protest," prosecutor Nina-Alice Antony said. "And when he passes that happy crowd in front of him on Fourth Street, those images pop into his head and he seizes on the opportunity to make his Instagram posts a reality."

In total, Fields was found guilty of 10 charges, including aggravated malicious wounding as well as hit and run. He is expected to return to court Monday for the sentencing phase. Fields is also facing 30 federal hate crime charges, which could result in the death penalty.

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