James Alex Fields, Jr., 21, pleaded guilty to 29 federal hate crimes for driving his car into a crowd, killing Heather Heyer and injuring dozens of other people. File Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI | License Photo
March 27 (UPI) -- The Ohio man who drove his car into a crowd full of protesters during a Charlottesville, Va., Unite the Right rally, killing Heather Heyer and inuring dozens of others, pleaded guilty to 29 federal hate crimes Wednesday.
James Alex Fields, Jr., 21, pleaded guilty to one count of a hate crime act that resulted in Heyer's death and 28 counts of hate crime acts that caused bodily injury and involved an attempt to kill, the Department of Justice said.
Each of the 29 counts carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.
Fields said he drove into the crowd of counterprotesters because of "the actual and perceived race, color, national origin and religion of its members," according to court documents.
He also said his actions killed Heyer and that he intended to kill other people he struck with his car.
During his guilty plea hearing, Fields also said he expressed and promoted white supremacist views as well as the social and racial policies of Adolf Hitler and Nazi-era Germany both in person and online and attended the Unite the Right rally in Emancipation Park before driving his car into the crowd.
"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," Attorney General William Barr said.
Fields had previously been found guilty on state charges of first-degree murder, five counts of aggravated malicious wounding, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of hit-and-run in Virginia and faces life in prison for the death of Heyer on those charges.