Charlottesville trial: Jury to reconvene for deliberations

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The court clerk’s office still has a trial roster online showing a trial date of Monday, September 10, for the jury to continue deliberations

A jury has again been scheduled to reconvene for deliberations in the civil trial of a man accused of killing one woman and injuring dozens during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

James Alex Fields is accused of purposely crashing his car into counterprotesters in August 2017.

Civil trial judge Richard Moore adjourned the jury on Wednesday at 16:00 (03:00 GMT), saying they were past the 30-hour mark.

The jury could be given a verdict on Friday.

James Alex Fields is seen in a photograph clutching a shield bearing the emblem of white nationalist leader Richard Spencer during a gathering of far-right activists

Fields, 20, did not testify at the trial.

He was arrested after the crash, in which Heather Heyer was killed.

Ms Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal and counterprotester, was struck in the head by a car driven by Fields, who prosecutors say was driving deliberately into the crowd.

At the time of the attack, Ms Heyer was part of a crowd of counterprotesters who marched from another part of the city in an effort to protect a statue of Robert E Lee, the Confederate general who led the defence of nearby Fort Monroe in the US Civil War.

Fields’ defence team says he was not the only driver to swerve into the crowd and that the prosecution’s case had become stuck in “legal silliness”.

But the prosecution argued that the “grave harm” he inflicted on thousands of lives, including people in Ms Heyer’s immediate vicinity, could not have been “fluffed off” as if it had never happened.

The day of the attack, President Donald Trump said there were “very fine people” on both sides and encouraged Americans to exercise “peaceful dissent”.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Heather Heyer is seen on a memorial wall in Charlottesville

Mr Trump’s comments triggered a backlash from members of the “alt-right” movement and led to widespread condemnation.

However, Mrs Heyer’s father was particularly vocal in his condemnation of President Trump over his controversial remarks about the “very fine people” who attended the rally.

After the jury’s first break, jury foreman Richard Jenkins announced in court that the deliberations had been extended by another 20 minutes.

He said the jury had been “having a hard time coming to grips” with some of the argumentation around the case and thus decided to call a second break.

He said: “You think we want to listen to this then we don’t want to hear it? We don’t want to hear it now?

“I do hope we have accomplished our goal and we continue deliberating.”

Image copyright AFP

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Some of the multiple counterprotesters are seen lying in a row in hospital

The next meeting of the jury is scheduled to take place from 13:30 (16:30 GMT) to 17:30 (18:30 GMT) on Thursday.

The judge then decided that jurors would resume deliberations on Friday at 04:00 (04:00 GMT).

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