Charlottesville terrorist James Alex Fields Jr pleads for leniency, citing Jewish grandfather's murder of his grandmother

Documents asking for leniency for the far-right killer describe his 'trauma' of growing up knowing his Jewish grandfather had killed his grandmother in a murder suicide


A far-right terrorist who killed a woman protesting against the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville is attempting to plead for clemency, citing “trauma” in growing up knowing that his Jewish grandfather had killed his grandmother.

James Alex Fields Jr drove a car into a crowd of people who were protesting against the “Unite the Right” rally held in the Virginia city in August 2017. He killed Heather Heyer, 32, as well as injuring more than 30 others.

In December 2018, Fields was found guilty of first-degree murder, hit and run, and eight counts of malicious wounding. The jury recommended life in prison, as well as another 419 years for other crimes committed. Official sentencing for those charges is due next month.

However, Fields was also indicted federally, and in March pleaded guilty to 29 Federal crimes of the 30 he had been accused of, in return for an agreement from federal prosecutors not to seek the death penalty. He is due to be sentenced for the federal charges on Friday.

Lawyers for Fields have asked the judge for leniency, citing his history of mental illness, being raised by an invalid single mother and the “trauma” of growing up knowing that his Jewish grandfather, Marvin Bloom, killed his ex-wife Judy and then himself in a 1984 murder-suicide. Fields was born in 1996.

However, court documents from the prosecutors focus on years of antisemitic and racist behaviour by Fields, including keeping a picture of Hitler on his bedside table.

They also pointed to a lack of remorse by Field for his actions; while in jail he was recorded talking on the phone about how Ms Heyer’s mother was a “communist” and an “anti-white liberal”.

Evidence introduced at trial also showed that the day before the rally, Field’s mother sent him a message urging him to “be careful”, to which he responded with a picture of Adolf Hitler and the words “we’re not the ones who have to be careful.”

The prosecutors said that Field’s history of mental illness did not excuse his behaviour in a way which would need leniency, saying: “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.”

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