Friday, 14 Dec 2018

Couple testify was calm minutes before deadly incident at Virginia rally

CHARLOTTESVILLE – Hayden Calhoun and his girlfriend, Sarah Bolstad, puts James A. Fields Jr. just before the fatal crash that would haunt this city. The couple drove from the Richmond area on the morning of Aug. 12, 2017, to wait for the "Unite the Right" rally. They said they put Fields, 21, and another man, after having broken the rules of the world, and said that they had been declared. He said, and Fields drove the couple back to their car. That was the last time they saw Fields – they dominated the news, they said. At first, the couple did not think the man they were the victim of high-speed driving a counterterrorous crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring several others. Both said fields seem normal and calm, even inviting them to lunch that afternoon. "He did not seem angry," Bolstad testified during the second week of Fields' first-degree murder trial in Charlottesville Circuit Court, just blocks from where Heyer was killed. She added later: "He did not seem like the kind of person who would do that." Calhoun testified he went to Charlottesville because he wanted to hear from "Unite the Right" speakers; Bolstad said she traveled with her boyfriend but would not have gone on her own. Both said they were not part of any group. Calhoun's and Bolstad's accounts on Wednesday are the first indication of what Fields's demeanor might have been shortly before. Defense attorneys called them to the booth to convince jurors that the Charlottesville field did that summer with the intention of killing or harming anyone. Fields, attorneys told jurors last week, acted out of fear of the counterproters and believed he needed to defend himself.
James A.Fields Jr. (Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail / AP / Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jai / AP)[['Moments of Terror': Survivors describe chaos at Charlottesville rally]Prosecutors have painted a picture of Fields. They said he was enraged when he drove more than 500 miles from his apartment in Ohio. Prosecutors have presented several pieces of evidence, including text messages between Fields and his mother, to show what they are. After he is told he is prepared to wait for the rally, he told him to be careful, according to the text exchange. "We're not one who needs to be careful," he replied in a text before the rally. He added an attachment: a meme of Adolf Hitler. Acquaintances of Fields have said that they had embraced the Nazi dictator's ideologies of blood purity and anti-communism. The image of Hitler "assumes both aggression and violent intent" towards the counterprotecters.
In this Courtroom Sketch, James A.Fields Jr., second from left, appears with his attorneys, Denise Lunsford, left, and John Hill, front right, as Judge Richard E. Moore, top right, reads charges during jury selection Nov. 26 in Charlottesville General District Court. (Izabel Zermani / AP / AP) Virginia State Trooper Clifford Thomas, a crash reconstruction expert, also testified Wednesday, saying Fields' 2010 Dodge Challenger was traveling at 28 mph as he drove towards the counterproters at 4th and Water Streets at this city's downtown mall. It then crashed into a Toyota Camry stationary, causing that to lunge forward at 17 mph, Clifford testified. The maximum speed on Charlottesville's city is 25 mph, unless posted otherwise. Traffic at the mall, which is lined with restaurants, offices and shops, is usually slower. Absent a first-degree murder conviction, which requires an attempt to kill, a jury could find Fields guilty of second-degree murder, punishable by up to 40 years in prison. Fields is also facing five counts of aggravated malicious wounding and three counts of malicious wounding of the 35 people who have been injured.[[
Man accused in death at Charlottesville rally was 'filled with anger,' prosecutor said]Calhoun and Bolstad testified that they ran into Fields and another man near McIntire Park. Rallygoers had been at Emancipation Park, where the organizers of "Unite the Right" had originally planned to gather for the rally. But a dispersal order had been issued, and right-wing groups began to leave. They found out that Fields was the suspect in Heyer's death, the couple testified. They then contact the FBI field office in Richmond. Under cross-examination by prosecutors, Bolstad did not know what he was doing before the rally, and that she and Calhoun spent only an hour with him. Philip Depue, a digital forensic scientist consulted by the defense, testified that at 1:39 pm that day, just minutes before the crash, Fields looked up directions to Maumee, Ohio, where he lives, using a browser application on his Samsung Galaxy phone . Under cross-examination by prosecutors, he said, "What did he get from his field of view?" .

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