CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WDBJ7)-- After six days of testimony, the James Fields Jr. case is now in the hands of jurors.
The defense and prosecution have officially rested. The jury will start deliberations Friday morning.
Closing arguments for each side came back to the established central question of the case: What was in Fields’ mind when he drove into the crowd on 4th Street? The attorneys established in opening statements that they would be arguing his intent rather than his actions.
The Commonwealth argued to jurors that Fields had “hatred of the other” in his mind when he decided to drive into the crowd.
Fields is facing 10 charges in relation to last year’s deadly Unite the Right Rally. He drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters after the rally dispersed, killing one and injuring 19. For six of his charges, the prosecution has to prove intent.
Nina Antony, Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Charlottesville, reminded jurors of earlier evidence brought forth in the case where Fields appears hostile towards protesters.
Antony pointed to an Instagram post that Fields shared three months before the rally of a meme depicting a car driving into a crowd of “protesters.”
The meme was shared privately with another account in May and Fields added the text, “When I see protesters blocking.” He also shared it publicly several days after he sent the message, but it was later taken down.
The prosecution said the jury can see the “hatred” in Fields’ text messages to his mother the day before the rally. Fields’ mom texts him, “be careful,” referencing the rally. Fields responds, “We are not the one who need to be careful.” He attached an image of Hitler.
Antony also reminded jurors of phone calls Fields made in jail months after the incident. In one phone call, Fields refers to counter-protesters as “terrorists.” In another phone call in December of 2017 Fields referred to Susan Bro, Heather Heyer’s mom as a communist and “the enemy.”
According to the prosecution there was no one around Fields’ car and no evidence that anyone did anything to his car that would cause him to act the way he did.
“There was nothing stopping him from backing up,” said Antony.
Denise Lunsford addressed the jury for the defense.
Lunsford said a major thing she would like the jury to consider is that there are a lot of misconceptions about the people who were in the City of Charlottesville on Aug. 12th. She said that some people had no idea what they were walking into. Many, like Fields, didn’t come with weapons.
Lunsford said that if people were in the park during the rally, then people assumed that they were extreme right wing conservatives. She said that if people were outside of the park, people assumed they were on the far left side.
“Your focus is not whether you agree with particular views or if you hold particular views,” said Lunsford. “Your focus is to consider whether James’ actions were impacted by everything else going on that day.”
Lunsford argued that Fields was only 20-years-olds and the meme on Instagram shouldn’t hold much weight. She equated the meme talking about protesters with a counter-protester’s sign from the rally that read, “This machine kills fascists.”
Lunsford also referenced videos that jurors watched the day before.
A body-worn camera captured footage of Fields four minutes after the incident. He says he is sorry more than six times and claims that he was being attacked.
Later that evening, Fields is recorded in an interrogation room at the police department. He asked how the people he struck were doing and when he is told that one person died, Fields started to hyperventilate. He cried and breathed heavily for more than two minutes before he calmed himself down.
“He should be found guilty of no more than unlawful wounding and the involuntary manslaughter of Heather Heyer,” said Lunsford.
The jury will begin deliberations Friday morning. They will have to decide if Fields is guilty of first degree murder, five counts of aggravated malicious wounding, three counts of malicious wounding and hit-and-run.