A now-deleted meme posted to James Fields’s Instagram account, clearly telegraphing what he intended to do in Charlottesville…and did.
Welp, looks like somebody is permanently late for work, now…
An avowed supporter of neo-Nazi beliefs who took part in the violent and chaotic white-supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in this city last year was found guilty Friday of first-degree murder for killing a woman by ramming his car through a crowd of counterprotesters.
A jury of seven women and five men began deliberating Friday morning and took just over seven hours to reach its decision that James Alex Fields Jr., 21, of Maumee, Ohio, acted with premeditation when he backed up his 2010 Dodge Challenger and then roared it down a narrow downtown street crowded with counterprotesters, slamming into them and another car. Heather D. Heyer, 32, was killed and 35 others were injured, many grievously. Fields was also found guilty on eight counts of malicious wounding.
And what does all that death and malicious wounding look like? This:
“I got hung up on the trunk of the car,” said Wednesday Bowie, who went to Charlottesville to protest against “Unite the Right.” “I recall thinking, ‘OK, I’m getting hit by a car. This is happening’.”
After sliding off Fields’ car, Bowie hit a truck parked nearby, breaking her pelvis in six places. Her femoral artery was severed, requiring emergency surgery. Her orbital bone near her right eye was fractured, as was her tailbone.
Bowie said she still walks uneasily with an uneven gait, 16 months after being hit.
Jeanne Peterson, who entered the courtroom in a wheelchair then walked to the witness stand with the help of a cane and deputy, described how Fields ran over her.
She took the jury through a series of x-rays detailing her shattered leg.
“A lot of crushed bones,” Peterson said. “They threw out anything that actually came out of my skin because of infection.”
Peterson said she has had five surgeries so far with a sixth set for next year.
Charlottesville police Detective Jeremy Carper told jurors that five reddish-brown stains containing DNA from 32-year-old Heather Heyer were found on the 2010 Dodge Challenger Fields drove that day, as well as human flesh clinging to the car’s windshield.
The passenger side mirror, grill and bumper also fell off the car after it struck the crowd of counterprotesters before police finally stopped Fields a little more than a mile away from the scene.
And as for the claim that he “was scared”, and acted out of “self-defence”? The dirty lie got put to that nonsense:
Early in the trial the defense said there would be testimony from witnesses concerning Fields’s mental health, but those witnesses were never brought forward.
Prosecutors, though, said Fields was enraged when he drove more than 500 miles from his apartment in Ohio to take part in the rally — and later chose to act on that anger by ramming his two-door muscle car into the crowd. They described Fields “idling, watching” in his Challenger on Fourth Street and surveying a diverse and joyous crowd of marchers a block and a half away that was celebrating the cancellation of the planned rally.
They showed video and presented witnesses testifying that there was no one around Fields’s car when he slowly backed it up the street and then raced it forward down the hill into the unsuspecting crowd. In her final address to the jury Thursday, Senior-Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Nina-Alice Antony showed a close-up of Fields in his car to rebut the idea that he was frightened when he acted.
“This is not the face of someone who is scared,” Antony said. “This is the face of anger, of hatred. It’s the face of malice.”
Jurors were shown a now-deleted Instagram post that Fields shared three months before the crash. “You Have the Right to Protest, But I’m Late for Work,” read the post, accompanied by an image of a car running into a group of people.
As he looked down the crowded street Fields saw a chance, Antony told the jury, to “make his Instagram post a reality.”
Jurors also saw a text exchange shortly before the rally in which Fields told his mother he was planning to attend, and she told him to be careful. “We’re not the one who need to be careful,” Fields replied in a misspelled text message on Aug. 11, 2017. He included an attachment: a meme showing Adolf Hitler.
No wonder it didn’t take long to convict him.
BTW, this also leaves other “alt”-right groups open to lawsuits for their part in the violence of that day. Particularly the group he was seen with earlier that day, and whose shield he carried. They had no problem handing him that, but they claim they’re not responsible, even though he was with them and wearing their uniform? A civil suit, with its lower burden of proof on the plaintiff, should shake some interesting fruit out of THAT tree.
But at least the victims and survivors of that particular day can now take some comfort that justice has been served to one of the culprits in their suffering. Others are bound to follow.