The man who drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally a little more than a year ago in #Charlottesville, Virginia, has been convicted of first-degree murder for taking the life of a woman.
A state jury rejected arguments that 21-year-old #JamesAlexFieldsJr acted in self-defense during a “Unite the Right” rally on August 12, 2017. Jurors convicted him of eight other charges, including aggravated malicious wounding and hit and run, PBS reports.
Fields drove from his Ohio home to support the white nationalists. Witnesses testified that as a large group of counterproesters marched through Charlottesville singing and laughing, Fields stopped his car, backed up, then sped into the crowd, killing civil rights activist #HeatherHeyer and injuring nearly three dozen others. Video surveillance of the attack was shown to jurors.
The trial featured emotional testimony from survivors who described devastating injuries and long recoveries.
The far-right rally had been organized in part to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Hundreds of Ku Klux Klan members, neo-Nazis and other white nationalists — amped up by the election of Donald Trump — streamed into the college town for one of the largest gatherings of white supremacists in a decade. Some even dressed in battle gear.
Afterward, Trump inflamed tensions even further when he said “both sides” were to blame, a comment people saw as a refusal to condemn racism.
According to one of his former teachers, Fields was known in high school for being fascinated with Nazism and idolizing Adolf Hitler. Jurors were shown a text message he sent to his mother days before the rally that included an image of the notorious German dictator.
Prosecutors also showed jurors a meme Fields posted to his Instagram three months before the rally in which bodies are shown being thrown into the air after a car hits a crowd of people identified as protesters.
The jury will reconvene Monday to determine a sentence. Under the law, jurors can recommend he get 20 years to life in prison. Fields is eligible for the death penalty if convicted of separate federal hate crime charges.
We’ll keep you updated on this story, #Roommates.
TSR STAFF: Christina C! @cdelafresh