Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Charlottesville car-rammer James Alex Fields jnr found guilty

Neo-nazi guilty of murder over Charlottesville riots James Alex Fields Found Guilty of First-Degree Murder in Violent Charlottesville Rally That Killed 1, Injured Others
Steven Clarke | 08 December, 2018, 14:14

"A lot of people have worked hard for August 12 not to feel like every day of our lives", said Seth Wispelwey, a local minister who helped form Congregate Charlottesville, a faith-based group formed in advance of a Ku Klux Klan rally and the Unite the Right rally here last summer.

John Hill, Fields' attorney, attempted to argue that he became scared by the violence at the rally, panicked, and drove into the group.

He faces 20 years to life in prison for the murder charge. After more than seven hours of deliberations, the jury found him guilty of Heyer's murder and several other charges-five counts of aggravated malicious wounding, three counts of malicious wounding, and one count of leaving the scene of a crime-related to the dozens of others who were injured.

Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal, was demonstrating with dozens of others against the "Unite the Right" rally when Fields drove his auto into the crowd after a day of tense clashes between members of alt-right groups and those opposed to their presence.

His testimony was largely consistent with other defense witnesses, who told the court that Fields didn't appear angry or agitated before he got behind the wheel of his auto.

As a large group of counter-protesters marched through Charlottesville singing and laughing, Fields stopped his vehicle, backed up and then sped into the crowd, according to testimony from witnesses and video surveillance shown to jurors.

Fields's defence team did not contest that he was behind the wheel of the gray Dodge Challenger when it struck activists who had descended upon the Virginia city to counter a "Unite the Right" rally.

White House chief of staff John Kelly expected to resign within days
Potential replacements include Nick Ayers , Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, who is still seen as a leading contender . Washington has been abuzz with rumours about Kelly's job status at various moments during his 16-month tenure.

Fields had driven overnight from his hometown Maumee, Ohio, to protest against the removal of the statue of Robert E Lee, the top general of the pro-slavery Confederacy during the American Civil War. Prior to attending the rally in Charlottesville, a text message sent from Fields to his mother included a picture of Hitler.

President Trump drew wide-scale criticism when in the aftermath of Charlottesville, he said that there was "blame on both sides".

Four other men from California described by prosecutors as members of a militant white supremacist group, Rise Above Movement, were arrested in October on federal charges of instigating violence during the Charlottesville rallies.

Jurors were shown a now-deleted Instagram post that Fields shared three months before the crash.

One of Fields' former teachers said the 21-year-old showed a strong interest in Nazi ideology and Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in high school.

Earlier in the trial, a recording of a jailhouse phone call that Fields had with his mother in March was played in court. When his mother pleaded with him to be careful, he replied: "we're not the one (sic) who need to be careful".

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