Man who drove vehicle into counter-protesters in Charlottesville convicted of murder

Clay Curtis
December 8, 2018

Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a auto drove through a group of counter protestors at the "Unite the Right" rally Charlottesville, Va., U.S., August 12, 2017.

John Hill, Fields' attorney, attempted to argue that he became scared by the violence at the rally, panicked, and drove into the group.

Sentencing will begin from Monday, with jurors given the option to recommend between 20 years and life for the murder conviction.

In it, Fields said that he was defending himself from "a violent mob of terrorists".

Fields, 21, drove into the crowd at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia which resulted in the death of Heather Heyer and left many others injured.

His testimony was largely consistent with other defense witnesses, who told the court that Fields didn't appear angry or agitated before he got behind the wheel of his vehicle.

The trial featured emotional evidence from survivors who described devastating injuries and long, complicated recoveries.

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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He has also been charged with federal hate crime counts, which could carry the death penalty.

Fields had driven to Charlottesville from his home in OH to take part in the "Unite the Right" demonstration, which saw hundreds of neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan members march through the university town to protest the removal of a statue of a Confederate War general.

Hundreds of Ku Klux Klan members, neo-Nazis and other white nationalists had streamed into the college town of Charlottesville for one of the largest gatherings of white supremacists in a decade.

Earlier in the week they presented jurors a SMS message Fields sent to his mother before departing for the rally after she had asked him to be careful. And many also wore red Make America Great Again hats, saying they were encouraged in the public display of their beliefs by U.S. President Donald Trump, who later that week would say that there were "very fine people" on both sides of the demonstration.

The defendant was known in high school for being fascinated with Nazism and Hitler, a former teacher said.

They also showed the jury two Instagram posts Fields uploaded in May that showed a vehicle ramming into a group of protesters, arguing that he ultimately chose to live out that fantasy when the opportunity arose three months later.

Fields referred to Heyer's mother in a recorded jailhouse phone call as a "communist" and "one of those anti-white supremacists". 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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