The man who allegedly plowed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters in Charlottesville will get parked in jail until his trial on second-degree murder charges. James Fields appeared at his arraignment without an attorney, which almost certainly made no difference in the judge’s decision to deny him bail. Fields will get a court-appointed attorney to represent him in the death of Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old woman killed in the car attack on the crowd:
— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 14, 2017
A judge has denied bond for an Ohio man accused of plowing his car into a crowd at a white nationalist rally.
Judge Robert Downer said during a bond hearing Monday he would appoint a lawyer for James Alex Fields Jr.
Fields is charged with second-degree murder and other counts after authorities say he drove into the crowd, fatally injuring one woman and hurting 19 others.
The court-appointed attorney that takes this case has an uphill battle. He may want to revisit the bail decision, but even if the judge reverses course, the bail will likely be so high that Fields could not afford it. The picture painted of Fields in this ABC News profile is of a ne’er-do-well that lived off his mother until shortly before he completely succumbed to his demons:
The New York Times profiled Fields late yesterday, with similar results:
He was living with his mother until “five or six months ago” when he moved to his own apartment in Maumee, Ohio, according to an interview that Ms. Bloom gave to The Toledo Blade. They moved to Ohio from Kentucky about year ago because of her job, she said. …
A friend and former neighbor of Ms. Bloom’s in the condominium complex where she lived until last year remembered her son as a quiet teenager who “kept to himself a lot.”
“He had some trouble in school making friends,” said the friend, who requested anonymity because she said she feared for her safety. ….
In an interview with The Associated Press, Ms. Bloom said she knew her son was going to a rally, but that she tried to “stay out of his political views.” She said that she thought the rally “had something to do with Trump,” adding, “Trump’s not a supremacist.”
Unfortunately for Samantha Bloom, the Associated Press interview was the first she’d heard of the violence at what she thought was supposed to be about Trump. Blooms seems bemused when told that Fields had taken part in a white-supremacist rally, noting that one of his friends had been African-American:
Fields’ history teacher has a much clearer recollection of his political views in high school:
“I feel like I failed and that we all failed,” Weimer said of Fields, now a suspect in the Charlottesville, Virginia, attack on counter-protesters that left a woman dead and 19 others injured. “He was a very bright kid but very misguided and disillusioned.”
Weimer said that he knew of Fields’ political leanings early on. He said another teacher filed a report during Fields’ freshman year over something Fields had written for an assignment “that just went beyond the pale.”
“It was very much along the party lines of the neo-Nazi movement,” Weimer said.
Weimer didn’t know for sure if Fields’ mother was notified but said “that would have been standard procedure” and Cooper administrators “were very good about keeping parents in the loop.”
Perhaps Ms. Bloom forgot about that warning, never received it, or just kept herself in a state of denial. This raises questions about Fields’ discharge from the military two years ago, which the Pentagon said was based on a failure to meet basic-training standards. Did they have any evidence of his views, and did that have any impact on his discharge? Or did Fields simply not have the capacity to serve, and get embittered and more extreme as a result?
The trial will no doubt cover some of those questions. If Fields’ guilt is clearly established, then his court-appointed attorney will need to find extenuating circumstances and a sympathetic narrative to impact the eventual sentencing. As noted above, the attorney stuck with the Fields defense will have a very tough case to make.