Prosecution Rests in Fields Case

Dec 4, 2018

There was dramatic evidence, Tuesday, in the trial of James Fields, accused of driving his car into a crowd of counter-protesters after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. 

For the first time, Jurors heard the defendant explaining his deadly actions on August 12, 2017 -- in a video recorded by the policeman who stopped him after the crash. “I’m sorry,” he blurted repeatedly.  “I didn’t want to hurt people, but I thought they were attacking me.”

In this courtroom sketch, James Alex Fields Jr., second from left, appears along with his attorneys, Denise Lunsford, left, and John Hill, front right, as Judge Richard E. Moore, top right, reads charges during jury selection.
Credit (Izabel Zermani via AP)

Asked if he needed medical attention, Fields said it was more important that paramedics attend to the people hurt in the crash. “Are they okay?” he asked the officer.

He was taken in for questioning and informed that several people were seriously injured and one had died.  At that point he began to hyperventilate, and members of the jury stared at the defendant who seemed nervous – flipping a pencil in his hand.

After more than two minutes, he regained his composure on the video and continued.  “I saw two cars down the street trying to leave.  I was trying to leave as well, to go home, Fields said, sniffling.

As he drove toward the crowd, he recalled, the counter-protesters were “coming at me, surrounding the cars in front of me.  I didn’t know what to do.”

Next, prosecutors played excerpts from two jailhouse calls Fields made to his mother.  In one he said he was “not doing anything wrong, and then I get mugged by a violent group of terrorists.”  He claimed the counter-protesters were waving the ISIS flag and expressed no sympathy for Heather Heyer or her mother – an outspoken critic of white supremacists.  Fields branded her a communist and the enemy.

Prosecutors rested their case Tuesday afternoon.  Fields' attorneys then began calling witnesses, hoping to back up their assertion that he acted in self-defense.