CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. ― James Alex Fields Jr., the 20-year-old Ohio man accused of driving his car into marchers protesting the “Unite the Right” rally on Saturday and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, appeared in court Monday via video conference from the Albemarle Regional Jail.
Fields, who wore a striped jumpsuit and often looked down at his feet, told the courtroom that he works for Securitas, a security company, and earns $650 every two weeks. He said he has no family or friends in the Charlottesville area.
Fields has been charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of hit and run. Judge Robert H. Downer Jr. appointed attorney Charles Weber to represent him. The public defender’s office declined to represent Fields because someone in the office was involved in Saturday’s crash, although details were not immediately available.
Downer didn’t discuss bond, saying he will wait until Fields can consult with his attorney.
Outside the courthouse, a handful of white supremacists gathered to blame the Charlottesville Police Department for doing “absolutely nothing to enforce a legal permit.”
At least three white supremacists spoke outside the courthouse, one of whom could be heard screaming “Hail victory.” Matthew Heimbach ― an outspoken activist “considered by many to be the face of a new generation of white nationalists,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center ― led the charge, blaming the police for not enforcing their permit. They were met by people chanting “Nazis go home” and by a mob of reporters. Police escorted the white supremacists away.
“These guys are not amateurs,” Heather Cronk, who works with an organization called Showing Up for Racial Justice, told reporters outside the courthouse Monday. “They are professional hit men who are out to murder people of color, Jewish folks, LGBTQ folks.”
“They’re coming back to Charlottesville,” she added. “They already filed for a permit in Richmond.”
A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 25.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.