Published: Sat, December 08, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Neo-nazi guilty of murder over Charlottesville riots

Neo-nazi guilty of murder over Charlottesville riots

An American neo-Nazi was found guilty of murder on Friday for killing a woman when ramming his auto into counter-protesters at a 2017 white supremacist rally that made Charlottesville a byword for racial violence under President Donald Trump.

Sentencing will begin on Monday when jurors will be given the option to recommend between 20 years and life for the murder conviction.

Lunsford said Fields only drove into the crowd out of fear after finding himself alone and unprotected. He was also convicted of five founds of aggravated malicious wounding, one hit and run count and three counts of malicious wounding for injuring others when he plowed his auto into a crowd of counter-protesters.

While the fact that Fields had struck the protesters in his Dodge Challenger was not contested, his lawyers and prosecutors had offered contrasting narratives over his state of mind and intentions on that day.

They showed video and presented witnesses testifying that there was no one around Fields' vehicle when he slowly backed it up the street and then raced it forward down the hill into the unsuspecting crowd.

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

Heyer, who was 32 and a paralegal, had never protested before the demonstration against the Unite the Right rally, a friend who was at the protest told NPR. Fields' mother, Samantha Bloom, who is disabled, left the courthouse in a wheelchair without commenting.

If convicted of federal hate crimes, Fields is eligible for the death penalty, AP noted.

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Republican US 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.

On Aug. 12, 2017, a rally organized by alt-right groups to protest the planned removal of a Robert E. Lee statue turned violent.

After the verdict was read in court, some of those who were injured embraced Heyer's mother, Susan Bro.

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.

Fields was photographed hours before last year's attack carrying a shield with the emblem of a far-right hate group, and people who knew him in high school have said he expressed Nazi sympathies as a student. She also made reference to a text message that he sent a day before the rally. 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.

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

Antony also repeatedly reminded jurors about a meme Fields posted on Instagram three months before the crash.

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