Charlottesville vehicle rammer found guilty of first-degree murder

The Dodge Challenger allegedly driven by James Alex Fields Jr. moments after the rampage in Charlottesville Virginia

A white nationalist who killed a woman when he drove into a crowd protesting against a far-right rally has been convicted of murder.

John Hill, Fields' attorney, attempted to argue that he became scared by the violence at the rally, panicked, and drove into the group.

Fields ― a 21-year-old extremist associated with the hate group Vanguard America ― faced charges of first-degree murder and other felonies over the attack, in which he intentionally sped into protesters after the "Unite the Right" rally on August 12, killing one and injuring dozens more.

Fields's lawyers said that he acted over his fears for his own safety.

He was also found guilty of eight counts of malicious wounding and one count of failing to stop at an accident involving a death.

Sending love to all of my friends in Charlottesville as white supremacist Trump supporter James Alex Fields, Jr is found guilty of First Degree murder and 9 other felonies for deliberately running over Heather Heyer & others with his auto.

Prosecutors told the jury that Fields was angry after witnessing violent clashes between the two sides earlier in the day.

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As a large group of counterprotesters marched through Charlottesville singing and laughing, he stopped his vehicle, backed up, then sped into the crowd, according to testimony from witnesses and video surveillance shown to jurors. The trial featured emotional testimony from survivors who described devastating injuries and long, complicated recoveries. She testified she and Calhoun were approached by Fields and another man, who suggested they travel together as there is safety in numbers.

Fields still faces a trial on 30 federal hate crime charges.

Fields had driven overnight from his hometown Maumee, Ohio, to protest against the removal of the statue of Robert E Lee, the top general of the pro-slavery Confederacy during the American Civil War. Hundreds of Ku Klux Klan members, neo-Nazis and other white nationalists - emboldened by the election of President Donald Trump - streamed into the college town for one of the largest gatherings of white supremacists in a decade. When Fields' mother responded, she noted how Heyer's mother Susan Bro "lost her daughter".

Jurors were shown a now-deleted Instagram post that Fields shared three months before the crash. She also made reference to a text message that he sent a day before the rally.

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

The defendant was known in high school for being fascinated with Nazism and Hitler, a former teacher said. 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.

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