James Alex Fields Jr found guilty of murdering Heather Heyer at Charlottesville white nationalist rally

Heather Heyer was killed at a 'Unite the Right' rally last year

Chris Stevenson
New York
,Lucy Anna Gray
Friday 07 December 2018 23:37 GMT
Charlottesville mayor: There's a 'direct line' between what happened here and Trump

A man who drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, has been convicted of first-degree murder.

James Alex Fields Jr was found guilty on Friday of killing Heather Heyer, 32, at a ‘Unite the Right’ rally last year. At least 19 other people were injured.

Prosecutors said Fields drove his car directly into the crowd of counter-protesters because he was angry after witnessing earlier violent clashes between the two sides.

Jurors also convicted Fields of eight other charges including aggravated malicious wounding and hit-and-run.

The jury rejected arguments made by lawyers for Fields that he acted in self-defence.

The rally was held to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee.

Fields, 21, of Maumee, Ohio, faces up to life in prison at sentencing. He stared straight ahead as the verdict was read out following seven hours of jury deliberation, NBC News reported.

President Donald Trump was strongly condemned by fellow Republicans as well as Democrats for saying afterward that “both sides” were to blame for the violence.

Fields was photographed hours before the car attack carrying a shield with the emblem of a far-right hate group. He has identified himself as a neo-Nazi.

Fields also faces separate federal hate-crime charges, which carry a potential death sentence. He has pleaded not guilty in that case as well.

Outside the court about a dozen anti-racist activists chanted in unison after the verdict that white nationalists “will not replace us.”

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It was a revised version of slurs shouted by white-supremacist-rally participants in 2017 who yelled “Jews will not replace us.”

Charlottesville civil rights activist Tanesha Hudson said she attended the rally and saw the violence that day. She said she sees the guilty verdict as the city’s way of saying, “We will not tolerate this in our city.”

She says Charlottesville residents “don’t stand for this type of hate”.

Additional reporting by agencies

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