James Fields Jr. faces first-degree murder in Charlottesville car attack

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – On Thursday, the murder charge was upgraded against an Ohio man who police said drove his car into a crowd of people after a Unite the Right rally,  killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring many others.

Heyer's mother was in the Charlottesville courtroom for the hearing of James Fields Jr., who is represented by Denise Lumsford, Albemarle County’s former commonwealth’s attorney.  His  second-degree murder charge was upgraded to first-degree murder. After hearing evidence in the case, Judge Downer granted the Commonwealth’s motion to certify one felony count of hit and run, five felony counts of malicious wounding, three felony counts of aggravated
malicious wounding and one felony count of first degree murder, WTVR reported today.

Each of these cases will be presented to a regular grand jury of the Charlottesville Circuit Court at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 18. Further proceedings in each case will be scheduled at that time.

Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal from Charlottesville, was protesting the “Unite the Right” march on Saturday when she was killed.

Investigators said other victims suffered serious injuries and in some cases permanent physical disabilities.

Video was shown Thursday that was taken by the Virginia State Police helicopter on August 12, which crashed later that day and killed two officers.  The video showed the Dodge Charger driven by Fields as it drove down 4th Street, which was supposed to have been securely blocked off.

His attorney said that Fields did not have a weapon on him, nor did he show up with a group, though a photo did place Fields at the rally earlier in the day.  Details released in court were that Fields soiled himself at some point during the attack. During cross examination, it was revealed that Fields asked how the people were that he hit and cried when he heard Heyer died.

Jason Kessler, the organizer behind the Unite the Right rally, was in the courtroom listening to testimony.

All charges were certified Thursday.

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