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White supremacist gets life sentence in Charlottesville rally death

Free Press wire reports | 7/4/2019, 6 a.m.
An avowed white supremacist who deliberately drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring ...
Susan Bro, left, mother of Heather Heyer who was killed in August 2017 while counterprotesting during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, gets a hug from a supporter after the June 28 federal court sentencing of James A. Fields Jr. in Ms. Heyer’s death. Steve Helber/Associated Press

Prosecutors said Mr. Fields had a long history of racist and anti-Semitic behavior and had shown no remorse for his crimes. They said he is an avowed white supremacist, admired Adolf Hitler and kept a picture of the Nazi leader on his bedside table.

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James Fields

During the sentencing hearing last week, FBI Special Agent Wade Douthit said a classmate described Mr. Fields as being “like a kid at Disney World” during a high school trip to the Dachau concentration camp in Germany.

Mr. Douthit read grand jury testimony from the classmate, who said Mr. Fields appeared happy and made the remark, “This is where the magic happened.”

The statement provoked audible gasps from the crowd that had packed into the Charlottesville courtroom.

The classmate said when Mr. Fields viewed the camp’s gas chamber, he said, “It’s almost like you can still hear them screaming.” Mr. Douthit said the classmate was so disgusted by Mr. Fields’ remarks he stopped associating with him.

During Mr. Fields’ state trial, attorneys focused on his history of mental illness and traumatic childhood.

A psychologist testified that Mr. Fields had inexplicable volatile outbursts as a young child, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 6 and was later diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder.

In a sentencing memo, defense attorneys said Mr. Fields was raised by a paraplegic single mother and suffered “trauma” knowing that his Jewish grandfather had slain his grandmother before taking his own life.