Man who drove into crowd convicted of first-degree murder

Man who drove into crowd convicted of first-degree murder

A white nationalist who killed a woman when he drove into a crowd protesting against a far-right rally has been convicted of murder.

His attorney, John Hill, argued that Fields panicked and drove his auto into the group after hours of brawls breaking out in the streets between protesters and counter-protesters. Fields faces life in prison.

The Virginia jury rejected arguments from Fields' lawyer that he acted in self defense.

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.

A jury needed a little more than seven hours to convict Fields, of Maumee, Ohio, in the killing of Heyer during a "Unite the Right" rally in Virginia on August 12, 2017.

The prosecution played videos that showed Fields stop his vehicle and reverse up a hill before commencing his deadly assault on a crowd of counter-protesters who were singing and celebrating after city officials had ordered the far right to leave.

The trial featured emotional evidence from survivors who described devastating injuries and long, complicated recoveries.

Susan Bro left mother of Heather Heyer is hugged by a supporter on the steps of the courthouse after a guilty verdict was reached in the trial of James Alex Fields Jr. Friday Dec. 7 2018 at Charlottesville General district court in Charlottesville

A group of about a dozen local civil rights activists stood in front of the courthouse after the verdict with their right arms raised in the air. She testified she and Calhoun were approached by Fields and another man, who suggested they travel together as there is safety in numbers.

The rally was held to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Present in the courtroom for the verdict, was Fields' mother and Susan Bro, Heyer's mother. The incident spawned the controversial response from Donald Trump where he claimed that blame could be attributed to both sides, and that there were good and bad people on both the white supremacist side and the opposition.

Hundreds of Ku Klux Klan members, neo-Nazis and other white nationalists, some dressed in battle gear, came to Charlottesville for one of the largest gatherings of white supremacists in a decade. Jurors were shown a text message he sent to his mother days before the rally that included an image of the notorious German dictator.

Three months before the incident, Fields also posted a meme on Instagram, showing an image of a crowd of people being hit by a auto.

After his arrest, Fields made a recorded phone call to his mother calling Heyers' mother a "communist" and "one of those anti-white supremacists". He shared a photo of Adolf Hitler with the message: "We're not the one (sic) who need to be careful".

He has also been charged with federal hate crime counts, which could carry the death penalty. 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.

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