Virginia city seeks healing after man’s murder conviction


Fields killed 32 year old Heather Heyer and injured dozens more when he drove his auto into a group of people who were protesting against a "Unite the Right" rally gathered to protest against the removal of the statue of Confederate general, Robert E Lee. Hill described Fields as being "scared to death" and claimed he feared bodily harm after the violent clashes erupted between participants of the Unite the Right rally and anti-racist counterprotesters.

Charlottesville City Councilor Wes Bellamy said he hopes the verdict "allows our community to take another step toward healing and moving forward".

During the trial, Fields' attorney, John Hill, tried to argue that Fields panicked and was scared when he drove his auto into the crowd and was remorseful.

The jury delivered the verdict late Friday afternoon after deliberating for just under eight hours.

James Alex Fields, 21, has been convicted of killing activist Heather Heyer when he plowed his Dodge Challenger into her and others during the "Unite the Right" rally in 2017.

The prosecution had called multiple witnesses and victims who recounted what in some cases turned out to be life-altering injuries.

He faces 20 years to life in prison for the murder charge.

A community activist believes justice was served with the first-degree-murder conviction of a man who drove his auto into a crowd of counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally in Virginia in 2017.

President Donald Trump became part of the conversation when on the day of the rally he denounced "hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides", but in that moment didn't specifically mention the white supremacists who staged the event.

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Reports coming from the trial note that some of Fields's school teachers remember him being peculiarly fascinated with Nazism and Adolf Hitler.

Fields, who also was convicted of failure to stop at the accident, is set to return to court Monday for a sentencing hearing before the same jury.

Jeanne "Star" Peterson told the court she used to be fast on her feet until her right leg was shattered by Fields' vehicle, and only recently learned to walk again unassisted.

The jury was also shown texts that Fields sent his mother up to and during the rally.

"I felt really comfortable with them", she said.

Separately, Fields also faces dozens of federal charges, including hate crimes, which could result in the death penalty.

During one of two recorded phone calls Fields made to his mother from jail in the months after he was arrested, he told her he had been mobbed "by a violent group of terrorists" at the rally.

A prosecutor, Nina-Alice Antony, argued that Fields clearly had "specific intent to kill a human being", even if he had not singled out any particular person in the crowd.

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