Final Preps Underway Ahead of Trial for James Alex Fields Junior
Final preparations are underway in Charlottesville Circuit Court for a three-week, high-profile murder trial. James A. Fields Junior is set to stand trial starting Monday, Nov. 26.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Final preparations are underway in Charlottesville Circuit Court for a three-week, high-profile murder trial.
Fields is facing a total of 10 charges: first-degree murder, multiple counts of malicious wounding, as well as a hit and run charge.
Legal Analyst Lloyd Snook says the murder charge comes down to state of mind: "There was right after the incident, there were a series of folks saying, ‘well he was provoked, or, ‘he was scared.’ And certainly, if you are scared - that kind of fear, even if it's not legitimate, self-defense kind of fear - it could be the basis for a reduction to manslaughter."
Jurors will have the option to convict Fields on the lesser charge of manslaughter, if they decide the commonwealth’s does not meet the requirements for first-degree-murder. A major factor is premeditation, meaning evidence would have to prove Fields planned the car attack.
Snook explains, "Premeditation, which is the essence of first-degree murder, does not have to exist for a long time. It's not like I came to Charlottesville with the intention of killing somebody. It could be something as simple as when I gunned the car forward I had in mind that I was going to hurt or kill somebody."
If convicted on all charges, Fields faces a minimum of 135 years in prison.
In addition to this, Fields has a federal case pending, where he could face the death penalty.