Charlottesville: White nationalist found guilty of murder for driving car into counterprotester | News | DW | 07.12.2018
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Charlottesville: White nationalist found guilty of murder for driving car into counterprotester

James Alex Fields Jr. rammed his car into a crowd of people protesting against a white nationalist rally in August 2017. Heather Heyer was killed and dozens were injured.

A white nationalist who killed a counterprotester in Virginia last year was convicted on Friday of first-degree murder and eight other charges.

James Alex Fields Jr. killed one and injured dozens when he drove his car into a crowd of protesters demonstrating against the white nationalist "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville in August 2017.

Along with the murder of Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal, the state jury in Virginia also found Fields, 21, guilty of aggravated malicious wounding and hit and run. They rejected the defense's argument that Fields was "scared for his life."

Supporting neo-Nazis and the KKK

Prosecutors told the court that Fields attacked the protesters after he witnessed clashes between them and other white nationalists earlier in the day.

Watch video 01:04

Community mourns victim killed in Charlottesville attack

Fields had driven to Charlottesville from his home in Ohio 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.

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

Adolf Hitler admirer

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

One of Fields' former teachers said the 21-year-old showed a strong interest in Nazi ideology and Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in high school.

The court is scheduled to sentence Fields on Monday. He faces between 20 years to life in prison.

Fields could also face the death penalty if he is tried and found guilty of separate federal hate crime charges.

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amp/sms (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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