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Neo-Nazi convicted of murdering protester in US

Neo-Nazi convicted of murdering protester in US

White nationalist Richard Spencer, who had been scheduled to speak at the Unite the Right rally, described the verdict as a "miscarriage of justice".

But Fields' lawyers told the jury that he drove into the crowd on the day of the rally because he feared for his life and was "scared to death" by earlier violence he had witnessed.

In addition to first-degree murder, which carries a possible life sentence, James Alex Fields Jr, 21, was found guilty of five counts of aggravated malicious wounding, three of malicious wounding, and one hit-and-run count.

Defence attorneys never disputed that Fields was behind the wheel of the Dodge Charger that sent bodies flying when it crashed into a crowd on 12 August past year, killing counter-protester Heather Heyer, 32, and injuring 19 others.

His testimony was largely consistent with other defense witnesses, who told the court that Fields didn't appear angry or agitated before he got behind the wheel of his auto.

The prosecution played videos that showed Fields stop his vehicle and reverse up a hill before commencing his deadly assault on a crowd of counter-protesters who were singing and celebrating after city officials had ordered the far right to leave.

The nine-day trial featured days of emotional testimony from victims who were seriously injured in the crash, including a man who pushed his girlfriend out of the way, bearing the brunt of the impact himself, and a single mother who suffered two broken legs and a broken back.

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Fields had driven overnight from his hometown Maumee, Ohio, to support the "Unite the Right" rally to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E Lee, the top general of the pro-slavery Confederacy during the 1861-1865 American Civil War.

Earlier in the week they presented jurors a SMS message Fields sent to his mother before departing for the rally after she had asked him to be careful.

Hundreds of Ku Klux Klan members, neo-Nazis and other white nationalists, some dressed in battle gear, came to Charlottesville for one of the largest gatherings of white supremacists in a decade.

In response to the violence, President Trump said there was "blame on both sides".

Reports coming from the trial note that some of Fields's school teachers remember him being peculiarly fascinated with Nazism and Adolf Hitler.

They also showed the jury two Instagram posts Fields uploaded in May that showed a auto ramming into a group of protesters, arguing that he ultimately chose to live out that fantasy when the opportunity arose three months later. She also made reference to a text message that he sent a day before the rally.

On Thursday, she urged the jury to find Fields guilty of "no more than" the lesser charges of manslaughter in Heyer's death and unlawful wounding for the injuries to others. In another, Fields referred to the mother of the woman who was killed as a "communist" and "one of those anti-white supremacists".