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Closing arguments complete in trial of white supremacists accused of conspiring to commit violence in Charlottesville

August 12 Rally
Steve Helber
/
AP
Defendants said they didn't know the man who drove a car into this crowd of counter-demonstrators. The judge said they needn't have known him to be part of a conspiracy to commit violence.

The trial began this week with plaintiffs calling Jason Kessler to the stand. He’s the local blogger accused of conspiring with the likes of Richard Spencer, a leader of the Alt-Right from Washington. Reporter Lisa Provence says Kessler went on the attack against his former ally.

“It was a snipe fest, including Jason calling him a sociopath and a narcissist – that he seemed like a serial killer.”

Then it was time for the defense to present its case.

“The plaintiffs called 36 witnesses," Provence says. "The defense, they called four people.”

Reporter Lisa Provence says the week began with testimony from Charlottesville blogger Jason Kessler who used the opportunity to attack his former ally, alt-right leader Richard Spencer.

In their closing argument, Provence says some of the defendants seemed unhinged. Spencer compared himself to Jesus, and Chris Cantwell insisted loudly that he was innocent.

“His testimony has been profanity-laden, racist-laden throughout the trial," she recalls. "In his closing argument he was shouting that he did not engage in a conspiracy to commit violence, even though he pleaded guilty to two counts of assault.”

With so many defendants involved in this case and millions of dollars in fines at stake, Provence says deliberations could take several days.

Sandy Hausman joined our news team in 2008 after honing her radio skills in Chicago. Since then, she's won several national awards for her reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Radio, Television and Digital News Association and the Public Radio News Directors' Association.
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