Charlottesville killer James Fields convicted of first-degree murder

Man who drove car into crowd at Virginia counter protest convicted of first-degree murder	 	 	 			Credit Getty  Handout

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

His attorney, John Hill, argued that Fields panicked and drove his vehicle into the group after hours of brawls breaking out in the streets between protesters and counter-protesters.

The jury is scheduled to convene Monday to determine Fields's sentence which carries a recommended sentence of 20 years to life.

In delivering its verdict late Friday afternoon, the jury rejected arguments by lawyers for James Alex Fields Jr. that he acted in self-defense.

He was also found guilty of five counts of aggravated malicious wounding, three counts of malicious wounding and a count of leaving the scene of an accident.

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.

As a large group of counter-protesters marched through Charlottesville singing and laughing, Fields stopped his auto, backed up and then sped into the crowd, according to testimony from witnesses and video surveillance shown to jurors.

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

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Heyer, a paralegal and civil rights activist, was killed. Fields' mother, Samantha Bloom, who is disabled, left the courthouse in a wheelchair without commenting.

Fields is also facing separate charges of 30 federal hate crimes.

President Donald Trump was widely condemned after he said "both sides" were to blame for the violence.

He drove his Dodge Challenger through the night to attend the white nationalist rally, which was organized to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee.

During the trial, prosecutors introduced evidence that Mr. Fields meant to commit harm when he drove from OH to attend the rally, which featured neo-Nazis bearing swastikas and Ku Klux Klan members.

Prosecutors showed jurors videos showing Fields carrying a shield and chanting anti-Semitic and homophobic slogans alongside other members of the far right, and presented a text Fields sent to his mother before departing for the rally after she had asked him to be careful.

Antony reminded the jury of a meme Fields posted three months earlier on Instagram. On Aug. 11, 2017, the day before the rally, she told him to be careful and he responded "We're not the one [sic] who need to be careful", along with a picture of Adolf Hitler.

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

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