Driver accused of plowing into Charlottesville crowd pleads not guilty to hate crimes

Driver accused of plowing into Charlottesville crowd charged with hate crimes

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (WWBT) - The man accused of driving into protesters at the Charlottesville rally in August that killed one person has pleaded not guilty to federal hate crimes.

Last year, James Alex Fields Jr., 21, was charged with first-degree murder, two counts of malicious wounding and three counts of aggravated malicious wounding in the Aug. 12 incident during the Unite the Right rally.

The Department of Justice announced on June 27 that an indictment returned charges against Fields, of Ohio, with 30 crimes, including one count of a hate crime resulting in the death of Heather Heyer, and 28 other hate crimes involving an attempt to kill other people who were injured, the Associated Press reports.

Fields pleaded not guilty to the charges in court on July 5.

Fields was photographed hours before the attack with a shield bearing the emblem of one of the hate groups taking part in the rally, the AP says.

Authorities have not decided yet if they plan to seek the death penalty in new hate crime charges. Fields will be released into federal custody next week.

The violence that day forced then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe to declare a state of emergency.

President Donald Trump tweeted that "There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!"

Two Virginia State Police personnel were killed in a helicopter crash when they were headed to the area to help.

Lt. H. Jay Cullen of Midlothian and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton died on the scene near Charlottesville.

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