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Attorneys to Argue Self-Defense in Charlottesville Murder Trial

James Fields
James Fields

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - Jury selection in the trial of an Ohio man accused of killing a woman during a white nationalist rally in Virginia has gotten off to a slow start.

James Alex Fields Jr., of Maumee, Ohio, is charged with murder in the 2017 death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Fields is accused of driving his car into a crowd of people protesting the white nationalists, killing Heyer and injuring dozens more.

After asking general questions of prospective jurors, Judge Richard Moore, defense attorneys and prosecutors questioned individual jurors privately. By 2:30 p.m., only about nine people had been questioned privately. The judge acknowledged the process is "slow going."

Nearly all of the prospective jurors said they'd heard or read about the case and many said they had already formed an opinion.

Defense Argument

Credit creative commons
creative commons

Fields plans to argue that he believed he was acting in self-defense when he drove his car into a crowd of counter protesters.

A lawyer for Fields offered a glimpse of the defense strategy as jury selection began Monday in Charlottesville Circuit Court.

Attorney John Hill told a group of prospective jurors the jury will hear evidence that Fields "thought he was acting in self-defense."

Hill asked if any of the prospective jurors believe that using violence in self-defense is never appropriate.

The "Unite the Right" rally on Aug. 12, 2017, was organized in part to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Don Rush is the News Director and Senior Producer of News and Public Affairs at Delmarva Public Media. An award-winning journalist, Don reports major local issues of the day, from sea level rise, to urban development, to the changing demographics of Delmarva.