CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – A man who drove into a white-collar rally in Virginia was convicted Friday of first-degree murder, a verdict
James Alex Fields Jr. acted in self-defense during a "Unite the Right" rally at Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017. Jurors
Fields, 21, drove to his home in Maumee, Ohio, to support the white nationalists.
Prosecutors told the jury that Fields was angry After witnessing violent clashes between the two sides earlier in the day.
Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal and civil rights activist, was killed, and nearly three dozen others were injured. The trial featured emotionally testimony from survivors who described devastating injuries and long, complicated recoveries.
Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, after the verdict was read in court. She left the courthouse without commenting. Fields' mother, Samantha Bloom, who is disabled, left the courthouse in a wheelchair without commenting.
A group of a dozen local civil rights activists stood in front of the courthouse after the verdict with their right arms raised in the air
"They will not replace us! They will not replace us!" They say, "We will not replace us!" and "Jews will not replace us."
Charlottesville City Councilor Wes Bellamy said he hopes the verdict
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." [1
White nationalist Richard Spencer, who has described the verdict as a" miscarriage of justice. "
" I am sadly not shocked, but I'm appalled by this, "he told the Associated Press."
Spencer had questioned whether Fields could be a fair trial since the case was so emotional . "
" Spencer said. "
Spencer popularized the term" alt-right "to describe a fringe movement of loosely mixing white nationalism. anti-Semitism and other far-right extremist views.
"Absolutely not," he said. "As a Citizen, I have a right to protest. I have a right to speak. Robert E. Lee's Hundreds of Ku Klux Klan members.
The far-right rally in August of 2017 had been organized in part to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee Donald Trump, a neo-Nazi and other white nationalist, is dressed in the college town for one of the largest gatherings of white supremacists in a decade.
Afterward, Trump inflamed tensions even further when he said "both sides" were to be read as a refusal to condemn racism.
According to one of his former teachers, Fields was known in high school for being fascinated with Nazism and idolizing Adolf Hitler When his mother pleaded with him, he replied, "We're not the one (sic) who need to be careful. " One of two recorded phone calls at the rally.
Prosecutors also showed jurors a meme Fields posted on Instagram three months before the rally in which bodies are shown being thrown into the air after a car hits a crowd of people identified as protesters. He posted the meme to his friend in May 2017.
But Fields' lawyers told the jury that he drove into the crowd on the rally because he feared for his life and what was "scared to death" by previous violence he had witnessed.
Wednesday Bowie, who was struck by Fields' car and suffered a broken pelvic and other injuries,
"This is the best I've been in a year and a half," Bowie said.
The jury wants to reconvene Monday to recommend a sentence. Under Virginia law, he may be sentenced to 20 years in prison on the first-degree murder charge.
No trial has been scheduled yet.
By Denise Lavoie, Associated Press