Neo-Nazi murderer cites Jewish grandfather in appeal for 'mercy'

White supremacist convicted of murder at Charlottesville event in 2017 blames his bigotry on 'trauma' related to Jewish grandfather.

David Rosenberg ,

James Alex Fields Jr.
James Alex Fields Jr.

A white supremacist who was convicted of first-degree murder after he ran down a protester in Charlottesville, Virginia two years ago has asked a federal judge for “mercy” when deciding upon sentencing.

On August 12th, 2017, Ohio resident James Alex Fields Jr. drove through a crowd of protesters demonstrating against the “Unite the Right” event in Charlottesville.

Fields rammed dozens of protesters with a 2010 Dodge Challenger, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and leaving 28 more injured.

The demonstrators had been protesting the gathering of neo-Nazis and other far-right activists in Charlottesville, who had turned out in the college town to challenge the city’s decision to remove Confederate monuments from local parks.

Fields, now 20, pleaded guilty to federal hate crimes, and was convicted of first-degree murder last December.

A jury recommended Fields be sentenced to 419 years for the ramming attack.

But Fields’ attorneys have filed a request with a federal judge asking for “mercy” in finalizing the sentence.

“No amount of punishment imposed on James can repair the damage he caused to dozens of innocent people. But this Court should find that retribution has limits,” Fields’ legal team wrote in a court document Friday, calling for an “expression of mercy”.

In the court documents filed Friday, Fields’ attorneys cited his history of mental illness, the difficulties they say he faced being raised by a single, paraplegic mother.

Prosecutors have noted that Fields had explicitly voiced neo-Nazi and white supremacist views, keeping a picture of Adolf Hitler by his bed, and had a history of racist and anti-Semitic behavior.

In his defense, Fields’ legal team cited the “trauma” he suffered in growing up aware that his grandfather – who was Jewish – had murdered his grandmother, before committing suicide.

The prosecution rejected this argument, saying that Fields had shown no sign of remorse for his actions or bigotry.

"Any mental health concerns raised by the defendant do not overcome the defendant's demonstrated lack of remorse and his prior history of substantial racial animus."