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Charlottesville Suspect To Remain In Jail After First Court Appearance

Updated at 2:10 p.m. ET

A judge declined to set bond for an Ohio man during his first court appearance after allegedly ramming a vehicle into a crowd of people demonstrating against a white supremacist rally Saturday in Charlottesville, Va.

Charlottesville resident Heather Heyer was killed, and at least 19 other people were in injured in the attack.

The Charlottesville Police Department said Saturday that James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Maumee, Ohio, was charged with one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of hit-and run.

During today's Charlottesville court hearing, as NPR's Debbie Elliott reports, Fields "appeared by video from jail, dressed in a gray and white-striped prison jumpsuit."

He answered the judge's questions with a simple "Yes, sir" and "No, sir," according to The Associated Press.

Fields told Judge Robert Downer that he could not afford a lawyer. "Downer assigned a court-appointed attorney to represent Fields, and set another hearing for Aug. 25," Debbie adds. "Until then, the judge said, Fields would remain in jail with no bond in part because he has no ties to the area."

The AP adds that the judge told the court that the "public defenders' office informed him it could not represent Fields because a relative of someone in the office was injured in Saturday's protest." Fields was taken into custody on Saturday after the incident.

Details are emerging about Fields' background and his interest in Nazi Germany. One of the suspect's high school teachers in Ohio told member station WVXU that Fields "was intelligent and didn't cause trouble," but was "also deeply into Adolf Hitler and white supremacy."

Derek Weimer, who had Fields in three classes at Randall K. Cooper High School in Union, Ky., told WVXU, "He went to a good school. Lived in a good neighborhood. There were plenty of people around to try to guide him in the right direction. My first feeling is we failed. I failed."

Fields' mother, Samantha Bloom, told The Toledo Blade that she was aware her son was going to what he called an "alt-right" rally. "I told him to be careful," Bloom said, according to the newspaper. "[And] if they're going to rally to make sure he's doing it peacefully."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.