James Alex Fields was convicted on ten counts Friday including first-degree murder in the death of Heather Heyer. Fields is the neo-Nazi who drove his car into a group of people in Charlottesville, killing Heyer and seriously injuring several others. From the NY Times:
After deliberating for more than seven hours on Friday, a Charlottesville jury convicted James Fields Jr. of first-degree murder, finding that the Ohio man intentionally drove his car into a crowd of protesters at a white nationalist rally last year, killing one woman and injuring nearly 40 others.
The jury, which heard testimony in a case in which hate and racism were as much on trial as Mr. Fields, also found the 21-year-old guilty of five counts of aggravated malicious wounding, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of leaving the scene of a crime. He faces up to life in prison for the death of Heather Heyer, 32, and for the aggravated woundings, and up to 20 years for the other offenses…
The nine-day trial featured days of emotional testimony from victims who were seriously injured in the crash, including a man who pushed his girlfriend out of the way, bearing the brunt of the impact himself, and a single mother who suffered two broken legs and a broken back. Many of the victims returned to the courtroom day after day to listen to other witnesses, and jurors saw them hugging and comforting one another.
Fox News has more about the closing arguments and some of the evidence used at trial:
During closing arguments Thursday, prosecutor Nina-Alice Antony portrayed Fields as a hateful young man who idled his vehicle for more than a minute before backing up and then speeding into the crowd, killing Heyer and injuring dozens of other people.
Video from a Virginia State Police helicopter captured the incident, showing a grey muscle car as it rammed the group and then drove away.
Antony also referenced a text message sent by Fields the day before the rally after his mother told him to be careful.
In the text, accompanied by a picture of Adolf Hitler, Fields wrote: “we’re not the one (sic) who need to be careful.”
Antony also repeatedly reminded jurors about a meme Fields posted on Instagram three months before the crash. The image showed a crowd, identified as “protesters,” being rammed by a car, and depicted bodies being tossed in the air.
Prosecutors argued that Fields was seeking to make that Instagram post a reality when he plowed into the crowd of counter-protesters. They also provided evidence that Fields had no remorse. In a taped phone call between Fields and his mother, which was recorded while he was in jail, Fields described Heyer’s mother as “the enemy.” From NBC News:
A taped phone call from jail between Fields and his mother was also played for the court. In it, Fields is heard lashing out at Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, calling her a “communist” and “anti-white supremacist” who was trying to slander him, according to the NBC 29.
When Fields’ mother said Bro had lost her daughter, Fields is heard saying that it “doesn’t matter” and called Bro “the enemy.”
The defense case was that Fields was in a panic when he drove into the crowd, but the jury obviously didn’t buy it. Sentencing will take place after victim impact statements are given. That’s set to begin Monday. Looking back at the video of this attack, it’s amazing that only one person died. So many other people came close to being crushed or run down. But what Fields did do is more than bad enough and now he’s going to pay for it for a very long time.
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