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Heather Heyer, 32, was killed after a car plowed into pedestrians at the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville in August. James Alex Fields Jr. is charged with second-degree murder in addition to other counts.

CHARLOTTESVILLE Heather Heyer’s cause of death was blunt force injury to the chest, according to the Central District Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond.

Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal who was protesting the white nationalist Unite the Right rally in downtown Charlottesville on Aug. 12, died after a car rammed a crowd of pedestrians gathered at Fourth and Water streets. Dozens more were injured.

The manner of Heyer’s death is still pending, a representative with the office said Monday.

James Alex Fields Jr., of Ohio, is charged with second-degree murder, five counts of malicious wounding, three counts of aggravated malicious wounding and one count of hit-and-run. He is being held at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.

Virginia code states that all murder — other than capital murder and murder in the first degree — is murder of the second degree.

Scott Goodman, an attorney who isn’t associated with the case, said the state would have to prove that malice was involved. He also said a court could determine that the vehicle was used as a weapon.

“It’s just as if someone is accused of killing somebody with a two-by-four or with a baseball bat or with a hammer,” he said. “The car, in this case, is the weapon.”

“So blunt force trauma, a beating, the same thing as if somebody was beaten to death, it’s almost more severe because of the force of the blow from this type of a weapon,” Goodman said.

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