Fields guilty of murder in Charlottesville rally death

Dec 10, 2018, 01:56
Fields guilty of murder in Charlottesville rally death

A jury of seven women and five men began deliberating Friday morning and took just over seven hours to reach its decision that James Fields Jr., 21, of Maumee, Ohio, acted with premeditation when he backed up his 2010 Dodge Challenger and then roared it down a narrow downtown street crowded with counter-protesters, slamming into them and another vehicle.

Fields, who expounded neo-nazi and white supremacist ideals prior to the attack, was recently charged with first-degree murder for killing Heyer.

Wednesday Bowie was struck by the vehicle which killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.

One of Fields' former teachers said he was known in high school for being fascinated with Nazism and idolising Adolf Hitler. Fields also faces the death penalty in a second trial on federal hate crimes charges next year. A sentencing hearing is expected to begin Monday.

Fields, 21, was found guilty in the killing of Heather Heyer and faces a possible sentence of life in prison.

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After the rally was dispersed, Fields drove to where the counterprotest was taking place in downtown Charlottesville and backed up to the top of a hill, said the indictment. Video footage from the day showed Fields' auto idling and backing up before plowing into the crowd.

Fields had driven to Charlottesville from his home in OH to take part in the "Unite the Right" demonstration, which saw hundreds of neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan members march through the university town to protest the removal of a statue of a Confederate War general.

Prior to deliberations, the defense requested the jury to find Fields guilty of lesser crimes, specifically naming involuntary manslaughter and unlawful wounding. A jury also found Fields guilty of five counts of aggravated malicious wounding, three counts of malicious wounding, and one hit and run count for injuring dozens of people at the demonstration.

The trial featured emotional testimony from survivors who described devastating injuries and long, complicated recoveries. He plowed through the group of protestors and slammed the cars in front of him, which in turn sent them hurdling at other protestors. Throughout the day, rally participants clashed with community members, anti-racists and anti-fascists across the city.

During one of two recorded phone calls Fields made to his mother from jail in the months after he was arrested, he told her he had been mobbed "by a violent group of terrorists" at the rally.

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

For both prosecutors and Fields' defense lawyers, the case was always about intent.

Jeanne "Star" Peterson told the court she was fast on her feet till her right leg was run over by Fields's auto.

Jurors also saw a text exchange shortly before the rally in which Fields told his mother he was planning to attend, and she told him to be careful.

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