James Fields Jr. pled guilty to 29 of the 30 hate crimes he was charged with after he drove his vehicle into a crowd of counterprotesters during the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. In December, Fields was sentenced to 419 years in prison for the murder of Heather Heyer, who was killed in the attack, and for maliciously wounding five others.
Fields’s guilty plea to the 29 hate crimes will spare him from the possibility of being sentenced to the death penalty. According to NBC News, the 30th charge against Fields included the possibility of the death penalty.
Heather Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, said that she was not upset that Fields was not sentenced to death.
“There’s no point in killing him,” Bro said, according to NBC. “It would not bring back Heather.”
Fields drove nearly 500 miles from his home in Maumee, Ohio, to Charlottesville, Virginia, in August of 2017. Once there, he participated with other white nationalists to protest the removal of statue of a Confederate soldier. Afterward, he drove his vehicle into a crowd of counterprotesters, injuring many people, and murdering Heyer, who was 32 years old.
“In the aftermath of the mass murder in New Zealand earlier this month, we are reminded that a diverse and pluralistic community such as ours can have zero tolerance for violence on the basis of race, religion, or association with people of other races and religions,” U.S. Attorney General William Barr said in a statement to CNN.
Fields’s sentencing hearing for the 29 hate crimes will be in July.