James Fields of Maumee, Oh., a supporter of neo-Nazi beliefs who took part in the violent white-supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., last year, was found guilty of first-degree murder for killing a woman by ramming his car through counterprotesters.
James Fields of Maumee, Oh., an avowed supporter of neo-Nazi beliefs who took part in the violent and chaotic white-supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., last year, was found guilty Friday of first-degree murder for killing a woman by ramming his car through a crowd of counterprotesters, the Washington Post reports. A jury took seven hours to decide that Fields acted with premeditation when he backed up his 2010 Dodge Challenger and then roared it down a narrow downtown street crowded with counterprotesters. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and 35 others were injured. Fields was also found guilty on eight counts of malicious wounding.
The deadly attack on Aug. 12, 2017, culminated a dark 24 hours in the quiet college town. It was marked by a menacing torchlight march through the University of Virginia campus the night before, with participants shouting racist and anti-Semitic insults, and wild street battles on the morning of the planned rally between white supremacists and those opposing their ideology. During the trial, Heyer’s deadly injuries were detailed and survivors of the crash described the chaos and their injuries. Fields’ attorneys argued that he drove the car not out of malice, rather out of fear for his own safety and confusion. They said he regretted his actions immediately, and pointed to his repeated professions of sorrow after his arrest and his uncontrollable sobbing when he learned of the injuries and death he had caused. Prosecutors said Fields was enraged when he drove 500 miles from Ohio to take part in the rally. Prosecutor Nina-Alice Antony showed a close-up of Fields in his car to rebut the idea he was frightened. “This is not the face of someone who is scared,” she said. “This is the face of anger, of hatred. It’s the face of malice.”