Charlottesville Rally: White Nationalist Convicted of Killing Counterprotester Last Year
By David Boroff
A white nationalist was found guilty of all counts, including first-degree murder, for killing counterprotester Heather Heyer and injuring dozens of others with his car during the "Unite the Right" rally in Virginia in 2017.
James Fields Jr., who had been known for idolizing Adolf Hitler, was tried in Charlottesville Circuit Court. In addition to the murder count, he was also convicted of five counts of aggravated malicious wounding, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of failing to stop at an accident involving a death.
He drove his Dodge Challenger toward the counterprotesters on Aug. 12, 2017, and fatally struck Heyer, who was 32.
Heyer, a paralegal and civil right activist, was one of dozens of people who were marching against the white nationalists.
The rally in Charlottesville, which included hundreds of Ku Klux Klan members, neo-Nazis and other white nationalists, was organized in part to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
During the trial, jurors heard phone calls from Fields' mother to the jail, including one where he referred to Heyer's mother as a "communist" and "one of those anti-white supremacists." In addition, a judge allowed jurors to see a text message sent by Fields that included an image of Hitler.
Fields' lawyers argued during the trial that he was "scared to death" when he drove into the crowd after seeing violent clashes earlier in the day. He told a sheriff's deputy "I'm so sorry" after he was apprehended, the law enforcement official testified.
In a video played for the jury, Fields cried and hyperventilated after police told him a woman had died and others had been injured.
Susan Bro, Heyer's mother, said before the trial that she is doubtful it will bring closure for her.
"I'm not obsessed with him," she said of Fields. "I feel like I've turned him over to the justice system. He's their problem, not mine."
(c)2018 New York Daily News