Charlottesville rally: On-the-run driver convicted of second-degree murder

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The trial came after violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017

Closing arguments in the jury trial of the accused in a deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, are due to start later.

Two men, Scott Wilson and James Alex Fields Jr, are accused of second-degree murder, aggravated malicious wounding and vehicular homicide.

The trial has come after violent protests at the Unite the Right rally in August 2017, in which a counter-protester, Heather Heyer, was killed.

Scott Wilson’s brother Shaun told the court their family believed Mr Wilson was guilty.

“He was fully aware of what he was doing, he had no intention to harm anyone,” Shaun Wilson said.

The jury will be asked to reach a verdict on which is the more likely crime – either second-degree murder or deliberate indifference to a risk of serious injury to another.

A third defendant in the case, James Fields Sr, who faces a lesser charge of reckless driving, is expected to testify in the trial that took over a month.

Federally grand jury charges

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption James Alex Fields Sr is charged with a lesser crime of reckless driving

James Alex Fields Jr, 21, an avowed white supremacist, had been accused of hitting Ms Heyer and a police officer in an attempt to speed away and flee police.

He had shaved his hair to the back of his head ahead of the rally.

On the first day of the trial, in mid-September, Mr Wilson and another jury member acknowledged they were members of white supremacist organisations.

During his closing arguments to jurors, prosecutor Johnny Darlington said Mr Wilson had acted deliberately to cause serious bodily injury to a woman and then killed her.

Mr Darlington told the court Mr Wilson’s testimony that he got his hands on the car and led it into Ms Heyer was “a joke”.

“He actually confessed, ‘I hit her because I wanted to, because I wanted to destroy the lives of women,'” Mr Darlington said.

“He drives that car into her like a battering ram, and that’s murder by committing a deliberate act.”

Defence lawyer Alex van der Zwaan argued Mr Wilson should not be held criminally liable for the death of Ms Heyer because the defendant was a bystander.

Referring to Ms Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, Mr van der Zwaan asked the jury: “Can you honestly not hold Mr Wilson accountable?”

Mr van der Zwaan said the victim had been a victim of the “ridiculous” rally as she “was not stepping in a way to prevent anything”.

He compared Ms Bro to a child being “scolded by its mother”.

He ended his closing arguments by describing his client as a “human being”.

Leave a Comment