Charlottesville: James Fields guilty of murder for driving vehicle into crowd

Remigio Civitarese
Dicembre 8, 2018

Flowers surround a photo of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who was killed when a auto plowed into a crowd of people protesting against the white supremacist Unite the Right rally, August 13, Charlottesville, Virginia.

The 10 charges Fields, 21, faced in this trial in the Charlottesville City Circuit Court are separate from the 30 federal charges he faces that relate to hate crimes.

Republican US President Donald Trump was strongly condemned by fellow Republicans as well as Democrats for saying afterward that "both sides" were to blame for the violence.

Violence broke out as counter protesters clashed with white nationalists, prompting Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe to declare a state of emergency.

A jury found Fields, of OH, deliberately rammed his vehicle into a crowd after the "Unite the Right" rally on August 12, 2017.

The trial featured emotional evidence from survivors who described devastating injuries and long, complicated recoveries. Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, and eight victims are anticipated to testify before Fields' sentencing.

Hundreds of Ku Klux Klan members, neo-Nazis and other white nationalists had streamed into the college town of Charlottesville for one of the largest gatherings of white supremacists in a decade.

His lawyer said in court that Fields was "scared to death" after the Unite the Right rally turned violent and clashes had broken out between protesters and counter-protesters, and they built their case around the claim that he was acting in self defense.

Fields was photographed hours before last year's attack carrying a shield with the emblem of a far-right hate group, and people who knew him in high school have said he expressed Nazi sympathies as a student.

According to The Associated Press, he also told his mother while in jail that he was mobbed "by a violent group of terrorists" at the rally. During the trial, prosecutors introduced into evidence Instagram posts by Fields of memes showing a vehicle driving into a group of people described as protesters.

In the text, accompanied by a picture of Adolf Hitler, Fields wrote: "we're not the one (sic) who need to be careful". He posted the meme publicly to his Instagram page and sent a similar image as a private message to a friend in May 2017.

During the trial, Fields' attorney, John Hill, tried to argue that Fields panicked and was scared when he drove his auto into the crowd and was remorseful.

Fields ― a 21-year-old extremist associated with the hate group Vanguard America ― faced charges of first-degree murder and other felonies over the attack, in which he intentionally sped into protesters after the "Unite the Right" rally on August 12, killing one and injuring dozens more. A video of Fields being interrogated after the crash showed him sobbing and hyperventilating after he was told a woman had died and others were seriously injured. No trial has been scheduled yet.

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