Fields guilty of 1st-degree murder in Charlottesville auto attack

Fields guilty of 1st-degree murder in Charlottesville auto attack

The jury deliberated for about seven hours before convicting James Fields, 21, of all charges stemming from the deadly attack that occurred after police declared an unlawful assembly and cleared a city park of white supremacists gathered for the "Unite the Right" rally.

He will be sentenced Monday morning and faces up to life in prison.

Instead, Fields' lawyers suggested he felt intimidated by a hostile crowd and acted to protect himself.

He was charged with first-degree murder over Heyer's death and five counts of aggravated malicious wounding along with three counts of malicious wounding and one count of a felony hit and run.

A state jury rejected defence arguments that James Alex Fields Jr. acted in self-defence during a "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017.

Prosecutor Nina-Alice Antony described Fields as a hate-filled man who idled his auto for three minutes before backing up and speeding his vehicle into the crowd, Fox News reported.

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.

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Fields has separately been indicted on federal hate crime charges, which allow for the death penalty.

Fields had driven overnight from his hometown Maumee, Ohio, to support the "Unite the Right" rally to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E Lee, the top general of the pro-slavery Confederacy during the 1861-1865 American Civil War. The incident spawned the controversial response from Donald Trump where he claimed that blame could be attributed to both sides, and that there were good and bad people on both the white supremacist side and the opposition.

Heyer's mother, Susan Bro and eight victims are expected to testify before Fields' sentencing, NBC News reported.

"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.

After his arrest, Fields made a recorded phone call to his mother calling Heyers' mother a "communist" and "one of those anti-white supremacists".

The jury was also shown texts that Fields sent his mother up to and during the rally.

Prosecutors portrayed Fields as an angry white supremacist motivated by hate as he plowed into the crowd, showing a text message he sent containing an image of Adolf Hitler and a meme posted on Instagram showing bodies tossed into the air after a vehicle plows into a crowd identified as "protesters". "We're not the one who need to be careful", Fields replied in a misspelled text message on August 11, 2017. 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.

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