Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Man who ran over Charlottesville protester guilty of murder

Neo-nazi guilty of murder over Charlottesville riots James Alex Fields Found Guilty of First-Degree Murder in Violent Charlottesville Rally That Killed 1, Injured Others
Jeannette Daniel | 08 December, 2018, 10:13

Prosecutors, though, said Fields was enraged when he drove more than 500 miles from his apartment in OH to take part in the rally - and later chose to act on that anger by ramming his two-door muscle auto into the crowd.

He was also found guilty of five counts of aggravated malicious wounding, three counts of malicious wounding and a count of leaving the scene of an accident.

The verdict on Friday followed an intense trial. When Fields' mother responded, she noted how Heyer's mother Susan Bro "lost her daughter". The trial surfaced painful memories and emotions for many in this small city who were in the streets that day or have friends and acquaintances who were injured.

"I'm very happy with the verdict", she said outside the courthouse.

Since Fields' trial began last week, prosecutors and defense attorneys have focused on his intent. The commonwealth argued that Fields meant to harm the counterprotesters. The defense says he was in a state of panic and acted in self-defense.

Lunsford dismissed the significance of the Hitler photo and Fields' Instagram post and asked the jury to ignore how they felt about Field's political views when deciding whether to convict him. She said he believed a group of protesters behind him was about to swarm his vehicle, although no evidence was presented to support that.

"He thought people were after him", she said. Prosecutor Nina-Alice Antony said Fields was angry over the fighting going on and posted on Instagram before the rally.

His social media postings, texts with his mother and jail phone calls reflect his true feelings and intentions, Antony said. He also argued that he showed remorse.

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But Fields' lawyers told the jury that he drove into the crowd on the day of the rally because he feared for his life and was "scared to death" by earlier violence he had witnessed.

While walking with other rallygoers, however, Fields allegedly yelled back at a counterprotester who shouted something along of the lines of "Get out of our town", according to Matthews.

The prosecution had called multiple witnesses and victims who recounted what in some cases turned out to be life-altering injuries. They described Fields "idling, watching" in his Challenger on Fourth Street and surveying a diverse and joyous crowd of marchers a block and a half away that was celebrating the cancellation of the planned rally.

Prosecutors said Fields, who espoused white supremacist beliefs and took part in the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, had hate and violence on his mind when he plowed his auto into the crowd.

Calhoun testified that Fields was calm and seemed exhausted.

"I saw Heather Heyer up in the air and remember thinking to myself, 'That's what someone's eyes look like when they are dead'". In it, Fields said that he was defending himself from "a violent mob of terrorists".

Several victims and eyewitnesses testified against Fields, recalling events leading up to the deadly crash.

Tadrint Washington, a young African American woman who was in her Toyota Camry in the downtown area when it was rear-ended by Fields's auto, said she was struck by the joyful atmosphere.

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