Charlottesville car attack suspect charged with first-degree murder

By Ray Downs  |  Dec. 14, 2017 at 9:51 PM
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Dec. 14 (UPI) -- An Ohio man accused of fatally hitting a woman with his car during protests in Charlottesville, Va. in August will be charged with first-degree murder.

James Alex Fields Jr., 20, had previously been charged with second-degree murder for the death of 32-year-old Heather Hayer, as well as other charges related to the incident in which he allegedly rammed his car into a crowd of protesters on Aug. 12. But on Thursday, prosecutors upgraded the murder charge against Fields.

In addition to the first-degree murder charge, Fields will also face one felony count of hit and run and five felony counts of aggravated malicious wounding, WHIO-TV reported.

Fields is accused of murdering Hayer in the midst of heated protests and counter protests during a white supremacist "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville. Fields has been described as a white supremacist and Hayer was involved in counter protests disavowing the white supremacist rally.

But during Thursday's hearing, Fields' attorney, Denise Lundsford, tried to gain sympathy for her client when she cross-examined Det. Steven Young, who was on the scene during the initial arrest, according to CNN. Young said Fields repeatedly apologized when he was arrested and cried when he was told Hayer died.

Fields' case is scheduled to go before a Grand Jury on Monday.

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