Neo-Nazi in Charlottesville attack gets another life sentence

James Alex Fields Jr, 22, was given another life prison sentence for killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 29 others when he drove his car into a crowd that was protesting racism and hate in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017 (AFP Photo/HANDOUT)

Washington (AFP) - The American neo-Nazi who rammed his car into a crowd of activists killing one woman in 2017 was handed a second life sentence Monday by a Virginia state court.

James Alex Fields Jr, 22, was condemned to life in prison plus 419 years. He had been found guilty on 10 counts, including first-degree murder, by a jury in December.

On June 28 a federal court ordered Fields jailed for life without possibility of parole, avoiding a possible death sentence after he agreed to plead guilty to 29 hate crimes charges.

Fields killed 32-year-old paralegal Heather Heyer and injured 29 people when he drove his car through a crowd protesting neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups marching in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017.

Fields had driven overnight from his hometown of Maumee, Ohio, to support the "Unite the Right" rally to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E Lee, the top general of the pro-slavery Confederacy during the 1861-1865 American Civil War.

Dressed in a white polo shirt and khaki pants, the uniform of the white supremacists, he took part in racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic chants, according to footage played in the courtroom in his federal trial.

Months before the protests, Fields posted on Instagram depictions of a car crashing into protestors, which prosecutors said showed his act was premeditated.

Shock over the Charlottesville incident was exacerbated when President Donald Trump equivocated afterwards saying there were "very fine people on both sides" of the protests and declined to condemn outright the extreme rightists.