Driver at white rally con­victed of mur­der

Man found guilty of 8 other charges, in­clud­ing hit and run

The Dallas Morning News - - Front Page - Denise Lavoie, The As­so­ci­ated Press

A man who drove his car into coun­ter­protesters at a white na­tion­al­ist rally in Char­lottesville, Va., in 2017 is con­victed of first­de­gree mur­der.

CHAR­LOTTESVILLE, Va. — A man who drove his car into coun­ter­protesters at a 2017 white na­tion­al­ist rally in Vir­ginia was con­victed Fri­day of first­de­gree mur­der, a ver­dict that lo­cal civil rights ac­tivists hope will help heal a com­mu­nity still scarred by the vi­o­lence and the racial ten­sions it in­flamed na­tion­wide.

A state jury re­jected de­fense ar­gu­ments that James Alex Fields Jr. acted in selfde­fense dur­ing a “Unite the Right” rally in Char­lottesville on Aug. 12, 2017. Jurors also con­victed Fields of eight other charges, in­clud­ing ag­gra­ vated ma­li­cious wound­ing and hit and run.

Fields, 21, drove to Vir­ginia from his home in Maumee, Ohio, to sup­port the white na­tion­al­ists. As a large group of coun­ter­protesters marched through Char­lottesville singing and laugh­ing, he stopped his car, backed up, then sped into the crowd, ac­cord­ing to tes­ti­mony from wit­nesses and video sur­veil­lance shown to jurors.

Pros­e­cu­tors told the jury that Fields was an­gry after wit­ness­ing vi­o­lent clashes be­tween the two sides ear­lier in the day. The vi­o­lence prompted po­lice to shut down the rally be­fore it even of­fi­cially be­gan.

Heather Heyer, a 32year­old para­le­gal and civil rights ac­tivist, was killed, and nearly three dozen oth­ers were in­jured. The trial fea­tured emo­tional tes­ti­mony from sur­vivors who de­scribed dev­as­tat­ing in­juries and long, com­pli­cated re­cov­er­ies.

After the ver­dict was read in court, some of those who were in­jured em­braced Heyer’s mother, Su­san Bro. She left the court­house with­out com­ment­ing. Fields’ mother, Saman­tha Bloom, who is dis­abled, left the court­house in a wheel­chair with­out com­ment­ing.

Char­lottesville civil rights ac­tivist Tane­sha Hud­son said she sees the guilty ver­dict as the city’s way of say­ing, “We will not tol­er­ate this in our city.

“We don’t stand for this type of hate. We just don’t,” she said.

Steve Hel­ber/the As­so­ci­ated Press

Ac­tivists raised their fists Fri­day out­side Char­lottesville Gen­eral Dis­trict Court after a guilty ver­dict was reached in the trial of James Alex Fields Jr. for first de­gree mur­der, as well as eight other counts.

JAMES ALEX FIELDS JR.

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