The man accused of killing a woman, James Fields Jr., when he drove into a crowd of counter protesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was due to go on trial on Monday on a charge of first-degree murder.
Fields, who is 21, was among numerous white nationalists who were present at the “Unite the Right” rally on Aug. 12, 2017, where prosecutors said he ploughed his car into people protesting the event, killing Heather Heyer, 32, and wounding 19 others.
Fields has been charged in Virginia with 10 criminal counts plus first-degree murder and malicious assault. In view of court documents, the jury trial in Charlottesville Circuit Court is billed to last 18 days, through Dec. 13.
If Fields is convicted of first-degree murder, he could be sentenced to life in prison.
The U.S. Department of Justice said in June, it was also charging Fields on 30 federal hate crimes charges, of which he could face the death penalty if convicted. Fields pleaded not guilty to the federal charges in July in his first court appearance since the rally.
According to federal prosecutors, Fields, a resident of Ohio, occasionally surpported racist ideologies on his social media accounts, also expressing support for Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust.
He journey to Charlottesville in August 2017 to join other white nationalists in protesting against the city’s removal of a statue which honored a commander of the Confederate Army, the losing side of the U.S. Civil War, which battled for the retainment of slavery.
U.S. President Donald Trump, after the rally, faced strong criticism when he seemed to match the white nationalists with the counter-protesters, stating there were “very fine people on both sides.”