James Fields crashed his car into an anti-Nazi demonstration – killing a demonstrator. In his eyes, the charges against him are unfounded.
American heroine: Heather Heyer was killed at a demonstration against neo-Nazis in Charlottesville Photo: ap
A neo-Nazi charged with murdering a demonstrator in the U.S. city of Charlottesville has pleaded not guilty in court. At the start of his trial on Monday, 21-year-old James Fields judged the charges to be unfounded on all counts.
The man is charged with intentionally steering his car into a group of counter-demonstrators in August 2017 on the sidelines of a march by far-right extremists in the Virginia state university town. A 32-year-old woman was killed and several other demonstrators were injured. Fields was arrested shortly after the crime.
The march of racists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville had also made international headlines – not least because U.S. President Donald Trump shortly afterwards equated the behavior of right-wing extremists and counter-demonstrators and spoke of "violence on many sides."
Fields is charged in the trial in Charlottesville Regional Court with eight counts of aggravated assault and hit-and-run in addition to murder. He faces a life sentence.
Jury selection for the trial was still ongoing Monday and could stretch into Tuesday. The trial is expected to last about three weeks total. Fields also faces a second trial in federal court, for which a date has not yet been set.