James Alex Fields Jr. was found guilty Friday (Dec. 7) in the murder of Heather Heyer, during the Charlottesville riots last year. Jurors in Virginia deliberated for less than eight hours before returning a first-degree murder conviction, the Associated Press reports.
Fields claimed self-defense drove him to ram his Dodge Charger into a crowd during last summer’s “Unite the Right” rally, a notion which the jury ultimately rejected. Prosecutors argued the that 21-year-old Nazi sympathizer deliberately sped his vehicle through a crowd of counter-protesters striking “numerous individuals,” one of which was Heyer, a 32-year-old legal assistant marching against the white nationalist riot.
In addition to murder, for which he faces 20 years to life in prison, Fields was convicted on nine charges including hit and run, and five counts of aggravated malicious wounding. A sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin Dec. 9.
Fields could be in line for the death penalty, if convicted on 30 federal hate crime charges. No trial date has been set in the case.