Joe Heim Reporter Covering a range of topics, including race, white nationalism, schools, student culture, Native American issues December 6 at 7:42 PM CHARLOTTESVILLE – There is no doubt that James A. Fields Jr. drove his two-door muscle car in a crowd of people in this city's downtown mall 15 months ago. And there is no doubt that one person was killed and three dozen injured in that bloody collision. What a jury of 12 must now consider that they have decided to convince them of the state of the art. Did he race to the crowd to kill people he perceived as his political and ideological enemies? Or did he feel threatened and act to defend himself? Whether Fields acted out of fear or malice is the central question for jurors in this case, and how they answer it would determine whether he could face life in prison or a sentence. Fields, 21, Heather Heyer, 32, and haunts this quiet college town. Her death on Aug. Charlottesville to the emergence of white supremacists, who came out of the shadows in the first months of Donald Trump's presidency. That day, waiting for the "Unite the Right" rally clashed violently with counterproters who opposed their presence in this city. [A day of rage, hate and violence and death in Charlottesville] Prosecutors have portrayed Fields, who appeared in court Thursday in a dark-blue sweater, as an enraged man who has adopted the racist ideology of Adolf Hitler. Shortly before 2 pm that day, he saw counterproters, some with Black Lives Matter insignia, marching on Fourth Street in this city's downtown pedestrian mall, and found an opportunity to act on his rage, Senior-Commonwealth's Assistant Attorney Nina-Alice Antony said in her closing argument Thursday.
An undated photo of James Alex Fields Jr. (Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail / AP) As counterproters were celebrating, hugging and chanting, someone was in the distance, "idling, watching," and "that person means harm," Antony told jurors. Antony said there is no proverb that fields had been threatened before he crashed into the crowd. Two witnesses, she said, testified that before Fields raced her Dodge Challenger across the mall and into the counterproters, he backed up slowly and deliberately as if to gain momentum – and that nobody was around or behind him in any way. "No one at all," Antony reiterated. She recounted the text exchange Fields had his mother before he drove more than 500 miles from his apartment in Maumee, Ohio, to Charlottesville. "Be careful," his mother told him. He told the story of Hitler, and a message saying, "We're not the one who needs to be careful." "That's what he says his mind on Fourth Street," said Antony, referring to Hitler's image. She also recounted the meme that Fields shared on Instagram before the crash. The same shows a car plowing into a crowd of protesters. "We are not saying that this field has been planning this for three months," Antony told the jurors. But, she said, Fields saw an opportunity on Fourth Street to "make his Instagram post a reality."[[A neo-Nazi's rage-fueled journey to Charlottesville]In her closing argument, defense attorney Denise Lunsford asked questions to take into consideration Fields' behavior before and after the crash. Rallygoers who makes it easier than usual. After the crash, Fields was apologetic, according to body-camera footage played in court this week. "He was not angry," Lunsford said. "He was scared." Body-camera videos show Fields saying "sorry" to a detective after he was arrested. "I did not want to hurt people, but I thought they were attacking me," he can be heard saying. At the police station, after Fields was told that several people were severely injured, he sobbed uncontrollably. Lunsford also asked them how they feel about repulsive – they decide to convict. "You can not do that based on the side he's on. You can not do that based on the fact that he holds extreme right-wing views, "she said. Lunsford also reads the significance of the Hitler's Fields attached to the text of its mother, saying that the arguments are made on the basis of assumptions based on the same Fields. shared months before the crash. "One even off Instagram. . . from a 20-year-old man, "she said, adding that such is not unusual on social media. In addition to a first-degree murder charge, Fields faces five counts of aggravated malicious wounding and three counts of malicious wounding of the 35 people who were injured, and one count of failure to stop at the scene of a fatal accident. 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. Charlottesville Circuit Court, Heyer was killed on the road Heather Heyer Way. A makeshift memorial of flowers and posters bearing her name still sits along the narrow, one-way street. Attackers stay in their box Thursday after a long delay involving their last witness, Joshua Matthews, who was one of the last people to spend time with Fields in the minutes leading up to the crash. Matthews, who was held in contempt for failing to show up on time, testified that he drove to Charlottesville to wait for "Unite the Right" and puts it on the ground. By then, chaos had been broken down between counterproducers and counterproters, a state of emergency had been declared and rally had been canceled. Matthews said he left Fields dropped when he left Fields dropped to where he left his car. Fields seemed calm, normal and "maybe a little bit scared" in the short time he was with him, Matthews testified. Testimony on Thursday began with Dwayne Dixon, a teaching assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a member of the anti-fascist group Redneck Revolt. He testified that he was in the downtown area before the crash, providing "perimeter support" for counterprotectants and carrying a rifle, when he saw a "gray muscle car" he later believed belonged to Fields, the Daily Progress reported. He said to the driver to leave, he said. Prosecutors countered with testimonials from Steven Young, Charlottesville police detective, who analyzed the situation. He said the data Fields was in the area of Fourth Street at the time. Prosecutors asked the jury to find Fields guilty of first-degree murder, while Lunsford asked them to convince them of "no more" than involuntary manslaughter and unlawful wounding. In the final address to the jury after Lunsford's closing remarks, Antony showed a close-up of Fields' face to scrap the idea that he was frightened when he drove his car into the crowd. "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. "The jury is set to begin discussions Friday morning. .