Charlottesville killer guilty of 1st degree murder
Charlottesville killer guilty of 1st degree murder
James Alex Fields Found Guilty of First-Degree Murder in Violent Charlottesville Rally That Killed 1, Injured Others
08 December, 2018, 14:16
James Fields, 21, of OH, claimed he was acting in self-defence when he killed Heather Heyer, 32, and injured dozens of others taking part in a demonstration opposing a "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last August.
Fields was convicted in the August 2017 crash that killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer. As reported by NPR, Fields was hit with first-degree murder, along with multiple counts of aggravated malicious wounding, malicious wounding and leaving the scene of an accident.
Fields, 21, drove to Virginia from his home in Maumee, Ohio, to support the white nationalists.
As a large group of counter-protesters marched through Charlottesville singing and laughing, Fields stopped his auto, backed up and then sped into the crowd, according to testimony from witnesses and video surveillance shown to jurors.
While the fact Fields had struck the protesters in his Dodge Challenger was not contested, his lawyers and prosecutors had offered contrasting narratives over his state of mind and intentions that day. The violence prompted police to shut down the rally before it even officially began.
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Earlier in the week they presented jurors a SMS message Fields sent to his mother before departing for the rally after she had asked him to be careful.
"I'm very happy with the verdict", she said outside the courthouse. Fields' mother, Samantha Bloom, who is disabled, left the courthouse in a wheelchair without commenting.
"Today, we have reclaimed our streets", local activist Rosia Parker proclaimed at a Charlottesville memorial for Heyer, according to The Daily Progress.
Charlottesville City Councilor Wes Bellamy says he hopes the guilty verdict will allow the city to move forward and to eventually heal.
"We don't stand for this type of hate". "Fields is the face of violent white supremacy in our country", she said.
Spencer popularized the term "alt-right" to describe a fringe movement loosely mixing white nationalism, anti-Semitism and other far-right extremist views. "As a citizen, I have a right to protest".
James Alex Fields his auto into a crowd of counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville previous year tied to the defense of Confederate monuments. At the time, a group of white nationalists, which included neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members, descended onto Charlottesville, spurred by the city's plans to remove a Confederate statue from a downtown park. Some dressed in battle gear. And many also wore red Make America Great Again hats, saying they were encouraged in the public display of their beliefs by U.S. President Donald Trump, who later that week would say that there were "very fine people" on both sides of the demonstration. "We're not the one who need to be careful", Fields replied in a misspelled text message on August 11, 2017.
Earlier in the trial, a recording of a jailhouse phone call that Fields had with his mother in March was played in court. He posted the meme publicly to his Instagram page and sent a similar image as a private message to a friend in May 2017.
The defendant's lawyer, John Hill, argued that Fields had acted in self-defense and that he drove the vehicle into throngs of people out of fear. "This is the best I have been in a year and a half".
The jury will reconvene Monday to recommend a sentence.
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Fields, who drove from OH to Virginia to support white nationalist demonstrators, faces up to life in prison at sentencing on Monday. He also faces 30 charges in a separate federal case over the same attack. No trial has been scheduled yet.
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