CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – A younger man accused of ramming a automotive right into a crowd of individuals protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, faces a courtroom listening to Thursday on fees together with second-diploma homicide.
James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-yr-previous from Maumee, Ohio, described as having a eager curiosity in Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler, additionally faces expenses together with malicious wounding and felonious assault for the crash Aug. 12 that killed one lady and injured dozens of others. It got here throughout a weekend of clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters that rocked the Virginia school city and renewed nationwide debate over what to do with symbols of the Confederacy.
Charlottesville turned a goal for white nationalists after its metropolis council voted to take away a statue of Accomplice Gen. Robert E. Lee from a downtown park. The rally by a loosely related mixture of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and different far-proper extremists was the most important gathering of such teams in a decade.
Citing intense media protection and public curiosity surrounding the case, a decide moved the listening to from Charlottesville Common District Courtroom to a circuit courthouse, writing within the order that “no outbursts, gestures, feedback or different disruptive conduct” can be tolerated.
The preliminary listening to is to determine whether or not prosecutors have sufficient proof to hunt an indictment. Neither the commonwealth’s lawyer’s workplace nor Fields’ lawyer responded to questions from The Related Press forward of the listening to.
Fields has been in custody because the rally and to date has made solely temporary courtroom appearances by video hyperlink. His lawyer, Denise Lunsford, has not spoken publicly concerning the case and has declined to make Fields obtainable for an interview.
If convicted on the second-diploma homicide cost, Fields might resist forty years in jail underneath Virginia regulation.
After a number of smaller rallies, lots of of white nationalists and counter-protesters converged in downtown Charlottesville on Aug. 12. Preventing broke out earlier than the occasion formally started and the brawling went on for round an hour till an illegal meeting was declared and the gang was pressured to disband.
Later, as counterdemonstrators have been peacefully marching via downtown, the automotive barreled into the gang. Video of the crash confirmed the automotive reversing and hitting extra individuals amid a screech of tires. The identical day, a Virginia State Police helicopter deployed within the giant-scale police response to the violence additionally crashed, killing two troopers on board.
Fields was photographed hours earlier than the assault with a defend bearing the symbol of Vanguard America, one of many hate teams that took half within the rally, though the group denied any affiliation with him. A former instructor, Derek Weimer, has stated Fields was fascinated in highschool with Nazism, idolized Adolf Hitler, and had been singled out by officers at his Union, Kentucky, highschool for “deeply held, radical” convictions on race. Fields had lately moved to Ohio from Kentucky, the place he grew up.
Area’s mom, Samantha Bloom, advised The Related Press on the night of the rally that she knew her son was attending an occasion in Virginia however did not realize it was a white supremacist rally.
Marcus Martin, who was hit and upended by the automotive because it plowed by way of the gang, stated he deliberate to attend Thursday’s listening to.
Martin’s leg was damaged within the assault, and his physique was captured in a photograph as he tumbled over the automotive.
Martin, who had been marching together with his fiancee and Heyer, a good friend of theirs, stated he is been enhancing bodily however “dwelling every single day simply making an attempt to overlook.”
“I simply need to stand and ask him, ‘Why did you do this? What made you do this?'” Martin stated.
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