30 November 2018 - Murder Trial Begins for Charlottesville Driver
The Charlottesville Murder Trial Is Beginning. Here’s What We Know.
Farah Stockman (The New York Times, 29/11/2018)
Fifteen months after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., devolved into stunning violence, the trial of the man accused of plowing his car into a crowd, killing one person and injuring several others, is finally underway.
It’s unlikely that the case against James Fields Jr., a 21-year-old Ohio man who reportedly embraced Nazi ideology, will shed new light on the violence that erupted on Aug. 12, 2017. Witness accounts of victims and emergency workers have already been detailed at length in the news media, pretrial hearings, and at least one exhaustive report.
But the trial in Charlottesville Circuit Court marks the beginning of a legal reckoning with the worst act of violence that day, a gray car accelerating into a crowd of counterprotesters and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring more than two-dozen others. Local prosecutors have charged Mr. Fields with first-degree murder, malicious wounding, and failure to stop at an accident involving a death.
Man accused in death at Charlottesville rally was ‘filled with anger,’ prosecutor said
Paul Duggan (The Washington Post, 29/11/2018)
In May 2017, three months before he rammed his speeding Dodge Challenger into a group of counterprotesters during a violent white supremacists rally here, self-professed neo-Nazi James A. Fields Jr. posted photos on Instagram of “a car running into a crowd of people,” a prosecutor revealed in court Thursday.
As Fields’s murder trial got underway after three days of jury selection, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Nina-Alice Antony said the prosecution would prove that Fields acted with premeditation, an essential element of the first-degree murder charge against him. “This isn’t about what he did,” she told the panel in her opening statement, noting that Fields does not deny driving into the crowd. “It’s about what his intent was.”
One of Fields’s attorneys, in his opening remarks, said the defense would show that Fields acted out of fear of the counterprotesters and not with criminal malice.
Charlottesville attack was deliberate, an ‘act of hate,’ prosecutors say during open arguments
Guerin Hays and Ellison Barber (Fox News, 29/11/2018)
A driver who rammed his car into a group of protesters during a white supremacist rally was simply trying to defend himself, his defense attorney said Thursday during opening arguments of his trial.
James Alex Fields Jr., who hit several people with his car, killing one of them, was "scared to death" after witnessing violent clashes between protesters and counter-protesters during a "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017, his lawyer claimed in court.
But prosecutors painted a different picture in court, alleging Fields carefully and methodically planned the attack and knew exactly what he was doing.
Charlottesville driver begins trial over woman's death: 'Was it a malicious act?'
Sabrina Siddiqui (The Guardian, 29/11/2018)
Nearly 15 months after a white nationalist rally erupted into violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, a jury heard conflicting accounts of what caused a man to drive his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring several others.
Opening statements were delivered on Thursday in the trial of James Alex Fields, a 21-year-old male from Ohio charged with first-degree murder for the killing of Heather Heyer, a 31-year-old paralegal and civil rights activist who was among the counter-protesters.
The 10 state charges against Fields also include malicious wounding. Fields has separately been charged with 30 federal counts of hate crimes, which could carry the death penalty. He has pleaded not guilty. The court heard from witnesses who were injured when Fields’s sedan smashed into them.