James Fields sentenced to life in prison for 'Unite the Right' hate crimes

He pleaded guilty to driving into protesters

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – An avowed white supremacist who drove his car into a crowd of anti-racism protesters during a white nationalist rally in Virginia has been sentenced to life in prison on hate crime charges.

James Alex Fields Jr. of Maumee, Ohio, was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty in March to federal hate crime charges in an attack that killed Heather Heyer and injured more than two dozen others.

He will be sentenced next month on separate state charges.

Fields apologized before the judge handed down his sentence, "Everyday I think about how things could have gone differently. For that I'm sorry." 

Susan Bro, Heyer's mother, said in the past 22 months, she's become an advocate for change and injustice. It's a promise she said she made to Heather when she said her final goodbye.

"I held her bruised hand and bruised arm. I said, 'I'm going to make this count for you,' and that's what I've done and will continue to do. You don't get to knock my child down and silence that voice without 500 more rising up."

The "Unite the Right" rally on Aug. 12, 2017, drew hundreds of white nationalists to Charlottesville to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Fields admitted deliberately driving his car into counterprotesters who showed up to demonstrate against the white nationalists.

The case stirred racial tensions around the country.