James Alex Fields, Jr., a neo-Nazi sympathizer accused of driving his car into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, was granted an attorney to advise him in a federal civil suit.
Fields is concerned that he might be open to self-incrimination in the civil suit, which could impact the charges brought against him in two other cases. Along with facing civil charges, Fields has been indicted on federal hate crime charges and state murder charges in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
In the federal criminal case, Fields was issued a notice of special findings, making him potentially eligible for the death penalty. He was charged with 30 counts of hate crimes, as well as the murder of 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
A federal judge on Thursday granted Fields an attorney to advise him in the civil suit, stating, “the Court finds that the appointment of criminal defense counsel is reasonably necessary in this circumstance.”
The event in question in the civil and criminal suits against Fields is the first “Unite the Right” rally, which took place August 11 and 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
As crowds began to disperse after the planned rally was declared an unlawful assembly, a large crowd of counter-protesters — composed of members of Anti-Racist Action, Showing Up for Racial Justice, Black Lives Matter, Antifascist (AntiFa) protesters, and others — proceeded down Charlottesville’s 4th street.
A Dodge Challenger then sped into the crowd, before slamming into two cars, reversing, and fleeing the crime scene. The incident resulted in the death of Heyer, a paralegal.
Jason Kessler, another defendant in the same federal civil suit against Fields, is organizing “Unite the Right 2” rally in Charlottesville and Washington, D.C., this year.
Photo credit: Getty Images