Attorneys for James Alex Fields Jr., 22, the white supremacist who drove his car into a crowd of demonstrators who were protesting a white power rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on Aug 12, 2017, killing one woman and injuring dozens, on Friday asked a judge for mercy, requesting a shorter sentence than life in prison for their client, the Associated Press reported.
In their sentencing memo, submitted in court documents Friday, the lawyers said their client should not spend the rest of his life in prison because of his young age, his history of mental illness, and his traumatic childhood.
Fields was raised by a paraplegic single mother and, according to his lawyers, his childhood was marred by the knowledge that his Jewish grandfather had murdered his grandmother before committing suicide.
Fields, who pleaded guilty to federal hate crimes last March, will be sentenced on June 28.
The Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, lasted over the weekend of August 11 – 12, 2017, and featured members of alt-right, neo-Confederates, neo-fascists, white nationalists, neo-Nazis, KKK, and right-wing militias. They chanted racist and anti-Semitic slogans, carried semi-automatic rifles, Nazi and neo-Nazi symbols, and Confederate battle flags, in opposition to the City’s decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee from Charlottesville’s Lee Park.
Counter-protesters included the National Council of Churches, Black Lives Matter, Anti-Racist Action, the Democratic Socialists of America, the Workers World Party, the Revolutionary Communist Party, Refuse Fascism, Redneck Revolt, the Industrial Workers of the World, the Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council, and the Antifa movement.
According to the AP, many of the details in Fields’ plea for mercy were redacted from public view. The prosecution, for its part, offered years’ worth of documented racist and anti-Semitic behavior by Fields, which included keeping a picture of Adolf Hitler on his bedside table.
The prosecution also cited a recorded jail phone call in which Fields made disparaging remarks about his victim’s mother as recently as a month ago.