Fields Pleads Not Guilty to Federal Hate Crimes

Jul 5, 2018

The Ohio man charged with driving his car into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville last summer has plead not guilty to 30 counts of hate crimes which led to the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuries to 19 others.

James Alex Fields waddled into the courtroom – his legs chained, his hands in cuffs, wearing a black and white striped jump suit. He said he was not guilty and asked the judge for a court appointed lawyer.

Because he could be sentenced to death, and because he has no income, the judge said he would appoint two attorneys, and he warned Fields that speaking with anyone but his lawyers about the case could bring testimony against him when his trial begins.

In response to questions about his mental health, Fields said he has been diagnosed as bi-polar, has ADHD, and suffers from depression and anxiety.

Credit Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail via AP

Speaking in a monotone, the 21-year-old told the judge he was on medication for all of those conditions but said he could understand the proceedings against him. 

His lawyer did not request bail. He has already been charged with murder in state court and is represented by former Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney Denise Lunsford.

About two dozen of his victims, friends and relatives of Heather Heyer filled the courtroom and met after the arraignment was adjourned.