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First-Degree Murder Charge For Man Who Drove Car Against Charlottesville Protesters

An Ohio man accused of ramming his car into a crowd protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one woman, is facing an upgraded murder charge.

James Alex Fields Jr., of Maumee, Ohio, initially was charged with second-degree murder and other offenses, including malicious wounding and failure to stop in an accident that resulted in death. The most serious charge is now first-degree murder, prosecutors said Thursday, according to CNN.

The man fatally struck Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old Charlottesville paralegal, and injured 36 others on August 12. The victims were demonstrating against the “Unite the Right” rally, which drew white nationalists and other far-right organizations who opposed the city’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Prosecutors announced the upgraded charge at a court hearing, but didn’t give details. Prosecutors also showed two videos —including one from a police helicopter —that authorities said captures Fields’ car stopping down the street from protesters, then driving into the crowd before speeding away.

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