White Supremacist Who Drove His Car Into Charlottesville Crowd Convicted Of Murder

08 December, 2018, 14:12 | Author: Wade Massey
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"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.

Sentencing will begin on Monday when jurors will be given the option to recommend between 20 years and life for the murder conviction.

The jury deliberated for several hours before convicting Fields, 21, of first degree murder, along with several counts of aggravated malicious wounding, malicious wounding and leaving the scene of an accident.

Defence attorneys never disputed that Fields was behind the wheel of the Dodge Charger that sent bodies flying when it crashed into a crowd on 12 August a year ago, killing counter-protester Heather Heyer, 32, and injuring 19 others.

While the fact that Fields had struck the protesters in his Dodge Challenger was not contested, his lawyers and prosecutors had offered contrasting narratives over his state of mind and intentions on that day.

Fields lives in OH with his mother.

On Thursday, she urged the jury to find Fields guilty of "no more than" the lesser charges of manslaughter in Heyer's death and unlawful wounding for the injuries to others.

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President Donald Trump was widely condemned after he said "both sides" were to blame for the violence.

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.

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. He also argued that he showed remorse.

Among other evidence in the case, jurors saw Fields, of Maumee, Ohio, marching and chanting with white nationalists, a meme Fields had posted months earlier of a auto plowing into a crowd, and a text message he sent his mother the day before the vehicle attack that included a photo of 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.

"We're not the one (sic) who need to be careful", he replied, alongside a photo of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, whom he has long admired.

Earlier in the trial, a recording of a jailhouse phone call that Fields had with his mother in March was played in court. 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. In another, Fields referred to the mother of the woman who was killed as a "communist" and "one of those anti-white supremacists".

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