The man accused of plowing his car into a group of counter-protestors in August of 2017 during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, can be heard in a recording, sobbing and hyperventilating after police tell him someone had died in the crash.
But before prosecuting attorneys in the James Alex Fields Jr. trial rested their case Tuesday, they also presented evidence that Fields, on several other occasions, had a less remorseful tone.
The prosecution played video of Fields for jurors that showed the moments after he was pulled over by police in downtown Charlottesville and detained. In the body-camera footage of Charlottesville Police Detective Steven Young, Fields can be heard saying, “I’m really sorry. I didn’t want to hurt people but I thought they were attacking me.”
The prosecution also presented video of Fields being interviewed at a police station. He gasps for air and sobs for more than two minutes after detectives told him his actions had led to someone’s death and multiple injuries.
The jury heard another side of Fields, however, when the prosecution presented as evidence, an audio recording of a phone call Fields made to his mother from jail, seven months after the crash. “I got mobbed by a violent group of terrorists,” he told her regarding the August 12, 2017 incident.
He said counter-protestors were waving ISIS flags. And he called the deceased victim Heather Heyer’s mother “anti-white,” and a “communist,” accusing her of slandering him.
Prosecutors have been working to build a case that shows Fields intended to kill or maim protesters during the two-day rally.
They provided evidence of text messages Fields and his mother exchanged the day before the crash. Fields texted “I got the weekend off, so I’ll be able to go to the rally.” His mother replied “Be Careful.” Fields responded, “We’re not the one who needs to be careful.” He then sent her a picture of Adolf Hitler.
The jury caught a glimpse of Fields’ attitude toward protestors, when the prosecution submitted into evidence an image Fields posted on Instagram months before the rally. It depicts a car plowing into a group of people with the caption, “You have the right to protest, but I’m late for work."
Fields could face life in prison if the state can prove his actions were premeditated.
The defense maintains the state has yet to prove Fields’ intentions or present evidence that he had any type of plan to carry out an attack. They plan to argue their client acted in self defense.
The Unite the Right rally brought hundreds of alt-right and white supremacist protesters to Charlottesville on August 11 and 12. It was organized to protest the city’s plan to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee. The rally was met with anti-racist counter-protestors, including 32-year-old Heather Heyer.