Man who drove into crowd convicted of first-degree murder

08 December, 2018, 17:17 | Author: Myra Gill
  • In this handout provided by Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail James Alex Fields Jr. of Maumee Ohio poses for a mugshot after he allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters killing one and injuring 35

Over the course of the trial prosecutor Nina-Alice Antony depicted Fields as an angry white nationalist who acted with hate and violence on August 12, 2017 when he sped into unsuspecting counterdemonstrators after the Unite the Right rally was shut down by authorities. After more than seven hours of deliberations, the jury found him guilty of Heyer's murder and several other charges-five counts of aggravated malicious wounding, three counts of malicious wounding, and one count of leaving the scene of a crime-related to the dozens of others who were injured.

A man who drove his auto into counterprotesters at a 2017 white nationalist rally in Virginia was convicted Friday of first-degree murder, a verdict that local civil rights activists hope will help heal a community still scarred by the violence and the racial tensions it inflamed nationwide.

The Charlottesville rally and counter protests sparked extreme racial tensions in the US.

In response to the violence, President Trump said there was "blame on both sides".

Fields faces life in prison.

His testimony was largely consistent with other defense witnesses, who told the court that Fields didn't appear angry or agitated before he got behind the wheel of his vehicle.

The far-right rally in August 2017 had been organized in part to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.


Dressed in a white polo shirt and khaki trousers - the uniform of the white supremacists - he took part in racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic chants, according to footage played in the courtroom. He also argued that he showed remorse.

The jury had the option of convicting Fields on lesser charges, but found he maliciously, willfully and deliberately drove into the crowd near 4th and Water streets.

They showed video and presented witnesses testifying that there was no one around Fields' auto when he slowly backed it up the street and then raced it forward down the hill into the unsuspecting crowd. When his mother pleaded with him to be careful, he replied: "we're not the one (sic) who need to be careful".

He had just left the company of people he was with earlier and felt vulnerable by himself, Lunsford said.

Among the witnesses they called was Dwayne Dixon, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor.

They presented one of their most prized pieces of evidence on Tuesday: a videotape of Fields sobbing and breaking down to a police officer shortly after his arrest, as he asked: "Are they OK?".

Earlier this week, BuzzFeed News had reported that in a phone call with his mother in December of 2017-months after plowing into Heyer and at least 35 other people with his vehicle-Fields had referred to Heyer as "that one girl who died, or whatever" and said her death "doesn't fucking matter".

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