Hate crimes

James Fields Killed Heather Heyer Because of Her Opinions, and Now the Government Is Trying to Do the Same to Him

The federal case against the Charlottesville murderer illustrates how hate crime laws punish people for their bigoted beliefs.

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Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail

Yesterday a Virginia jury recommended that James Fields Jr., the white supremacist who drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville last year, spend the rest of his life in prison. In addition to a life sentence for the first-degree murder of Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old woman who died after Fields hit her with his Dodge Challenger, the jury recommended a total of 419 years for various other charges related to the incident, including aggravated malicious wounding for the injuries he inflicted on other people in the crowd. Charlottesville Circuit Court Judge Richard E. Moore, who is scheduled to sentence Fields in March, can impose a lighter penalty, but it seems clear that Fields, who was convicted last week, will die behind bars.

Those who view that punishment as inadequate can still look forward to the federal prosecution of Fields for the same crimes, which could result in his execution. The legal theory underlying that case illustrates the puzzling logic of federal hate crime laws, which provide an excuse for double jeopardy and effectively punish people for their detestable views.

According to the June 27 federal indictment against Fields, he committed a "hate crime resulting in death" when he "willfully caused bodily injury to Heather Heyer, because of the actual and perceived race, color, religion, and national origin of individuals in a crowd gathered at and near the intersection of Fourth and Water Streets in Charlottesville, Virginia." That circumlocution aims to avoid an obvious problem with describing Heyer's murder as a hate crime under 18 USC 249(a)(1): Fields hates Jews and blacks, but Heyer, a white working-class Southerner, was neither. Fields did not select her as a victim "because of" her actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin.

No problem, federal prosecutors decided: We will say that Fields drove into the crowd because it was "racially and ethnically diverse." Hence Heyer died as a result of a hate crime. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Virginia also got the grand jury to approve a charge under 18 USC 245(b)(2)(B), which covers deadly bias-motivated crimes that interfere with a "federally protected activity"—in this case, using "the public streets and sidewalks of Charlottesville, Virginia." That provision brings the death penalty into play.

But there is still a problem, because it looks like Fields targeted the people he attacked not because some of them had dark skin (or looked Jewish) but because he vehemently disagreed with their political views, which is not a category covered by the laws that the Justice Department is invoking. "Many of the individuals in the crowd were chanting and carrying signs promoting equality and protesting against racial and other forms of discrimination," the indictment notes. The chanting and the signs identified the group as counterprotesters, as opposed to Fields' likeminded allies. Had the crowd been completely white, it seems likely that Fields still would have done what he did.

In other words, Fields killed Heyer because of her opinions, and now the federal government is trying to do the same to him. "Prior to August 12, 2017," the indictment says, "Defendant JAMES ALEX FIELDS JR. obtained multiple social media accounts, which he used to express his beliefs regarding race, national origin, religion and other topics. On these accounts, FIELDS expressed and promoted his belief that white people are superior to other races and peoples; expressed support of the social and racial policies of Adolf Hitler and Nazi-era Germany, including the Holocaust; and espoused violence against African Americans, Jewish people and members of other racial, ethnic and religious groups he perceived to be non-white. FIELDS also expressed these views directly in interactions with individuals known to him."

Fields' bigoted beliefs are legally relevant because they suggest that his violence was motivated by his animus toward "African Americans, Jewish people and members of other racial, ethnic and religious groups he perceived to be non-white," even though it is by no means clear that he chose his actual victims because of their membership in those groups. The upshot is that the government can kill him, which would not be legally possible if he had never expressed his hateful opinions. That is a pretty stark illustration of how hate crime laws punish people for what would otherwise be constitutionally protected speech.

Fields is a murderer and deserves to be treated as such. But even assuming that the death penalty is sometimes appropriate for murderers, people should not be executed because of their beliefs, no matter how abhorrent they are.

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  1. This article is massive overreach.

    The issue is whether this federal case is a)simple serial prosecution or b)protecting some basic individual rights (of a US citizen – only protectable at the federal level) even at the expense of double jeopardy (of a state citizen).

    1. And the answer to that question is that it is just serial prosecution. The states are the primary protectors of federal and state rights since the states have the general police power. In this case, the rights of the victims have been protected to the greatest extent possible since the guy was charged and fairly tried for the crime. These federal laws do serve a purpose. They exist and should be used in cases where the state and locals are unwilling or unable to protect the federal rights of its citizens. If the state had refused to prosecute this guy for some reason, then the feds would have absolutely had a duty to step in an prosecute him. But the state did and he was fairly convicted. So the feds really have no role here other than to just waste time and resources conducting a serial prosecution.

      1. This 419 year sentence for killing one person and injury of a few others seams to me to be a little overkill when almost every day there are crimes where more than one person is killed and in some cases others are injured yet most of criminals gets only a few years. What is the difference in the two crimes? One is a case of emotional punishment for the killing of a single person where the sentence is 419 years and the other is crimes of economic nature which one or more people are killed as we have seen in Chicago in recent months and years. The deaths in each case should have the same punishment but they don’t. Why? Crimes of economic nature are an everyday event and are expected where the other crime is an emotional crime where common senses is thrown out the window. In the economic crime the criminal will get out and commit another economic crime where is in the emotional crime the criminal will not. Yet the economical crime will have a larger economic impact than the emotional crime yet will receive less punishment. Something is amiss I say.

        1. It’s life + 419 years so it’s not like the 419 years matters.

          Economic impact isn’t the only or even primary thing people value when sentencing people for crimes. Furthermore, it’s not like he just ran one person over, he ran over an entire crowd, injuring many and easily could have killed more people.

          1. That depends on whether the sentence was life or life without the possibility of parole. If it’s the former, the 419 years will in fact matter when it comes to determining a parole eligibility date.

            1. That’s true, I haven’t seen any specification on that. Regardless, the point remains that his sentence is essentially life without parole either way. He’s not going to stay in there 400 years longer than everybody else.

              1. “the point remains that his sentence is essentially life without parole either way”

                That depends on how exactly the Virginia calculates the earliest parole eligibility date from sentence length.

                .I found this on how Virginia determines parole eligibility date, seems overly generous for long sentences.

  2. Nobody should be executed for anything in a civilized country. And he’s not being executed. So what’s the bitching about here?

    1. The feds are gonna try him again. They may have a death penalty charge in with their stuff.

      1. So is this a conversation about the death penalty, double jeopardy, or something else?

        1. It’s about the system, man.

        2. Yes.

    2. Nobody should be executed for anything in a civilized country.

      Civilized countries compel their citizens to all chip in together to lock people in cages. Duh.

    3. Then the criminals that kills someone in a commission of should not be executed either even if that person has killed hundreds of persons, correct? Then should a person who kills multi-times have to serve less time than a person that kills only person? If not then the 419 year sentence for the killing of one woman and the injury of a few others seems excessive when compared to a criminal that kills several in the commission of an economic crime and gets only 50 or sixty for killing many people.

      1. Are you under the impression that people never get sentenced to life without parole for “economic” murders.

        Here’s one case from today where a guy got that sentence for killing one person in an attempted burglary.

        https://tinyurl.com/y8trgy73

    4. Actually, the federal charges, if he’s convicted, could result in a death penalty sentence.

    5. Tony|12.12.18 @ 12:18PM|#
      “Nobody should be executed for anything in a civilized country.”

      How about that? Tony posts a comment without lying and I agree with him!

    6. A civilized society seeks justice. Execution for murder is the only way to balance the scales.

      1. That is actually the definition of an uncivilized version of justice.

  3. >>>In other words, Fields killed Heyer because of her opinions

    something “not quite” about this

  4. [P]eople should not be executed because of their beliefs, no matter how abhorrent they are.

    I can agree to that.

    But Fields is not on trial for his “beliefs”, he is on trial for his actions.

    And one of his (alleged) actions is “killing someone because of their beliefs”.

    Punishing him for that is not the same as punishing him for his “beliefs”, and you shouldn’t intentionally confuse that.

    Now, whether or not it’s appropriate to treat “murder” as different from “murdered because of beliefs” as different from “accidentally murdered” is a different argument that frankly I don’t care to get into. But you shouldn’t obfuscate that even if Fields gets the death penalty under hate crime charges, it won’t be because of his beliefs, it’ll be because he murdered a woman because of her beliefs.

    1. Not officially, it won’t be.

      he vehemently disagreed with their political views, which is not a category covered by the laws that the Justice Department is invoking.

    2. EscherEnigma|12.12.18 @ 12:22PM|#
      “But Fields is not on trial for his “beliefs”, he is on trial for his actions.”

      Beat me to it.
      Disregarding other arguments, the headline is a blatant lie.

      1. I agree with Escher and Sevo’s overall point, but I will say that I think Sullum’s argument is that Fields has been sentenced to life for his actions, and that at this point the federal government pursuing the death penalty for hate crimes charges would be trying to kill him for his beliefs.

        I think a more honest and accurate way of framing it would be that (assuming the feds pursue the death penalty) they would be that they’re trying to kill him for his motive in carrying out an action. Beliefs in isolation aren’t why he’s being charged.

        1. The article never states that he is being charged because of his beliefs. It is taking his guilt of murder as a given.

          1. Saying “they’re trying to kill him because of his beliefs” as the headline does leaves out a lot of pertinent information.

            Also, while I’m skeptical of any law that seeks to codify sentence enhancements into law, motive is taken into account in sentencing all the time, not just in hate crimes cases.

      2. It’s not a lie at all. Your reading comprehension is apparently not very good.

    3. The article didn’t say that the state is only punishing for his beliefs, it states that he maybe be executed for his beliefs, which is plainly true. He is going to at minimum, get life in prison, for murder. The point of the article(are you sure you read the whole thing?), is that If he is executed, it is because of his beliefs, by definition. Murder is already a crime, no matter the motivation, so your claims about her beliefs are irrelevant. Your straw man fails to convince.

  5. Is Fields a murderer? Did he do what he did because he was actively trying to harm people who were no threat to him, or did he behave recklessly trying to escape a mob who hated him?

    Also, if I understand the circumstances right, Heyer’s death was caused by a domino effect of him hitting another vehicle. In no way did he select Heyer to kill.

    Treating this as a hate crime rather than manslaughter is making Fields a political prisoner.

    1. It appears that he is. The state had evidence of him talking about how he wanted to get into with the counter protesters before he went down there and they had video that showed the car idling and backing up before plowing into the crowd. That is a prima facia case for first degree murder. It doesn’t appear to me that he had any significant evidence to back up his claim that he acted in fear. All the defense put on was evidence that there was a riot going on. That doesn’t cut it. They needed to have evidence that he was in reasonable fear for his life not that some people somewhere were going at it that day, which is all they had.

      1. Ok, I had not been following the story closely and was relying on a memory of what the incident was initially described as.

      2. That’s amazing considering all the live video from the day that didn’t show any of that.

        But again, this was decided the moment they caught him. He HAD to be an active attacker

        And look–he was!

        1. The video showing him backing up and then accelerating was on surveillance video, and wasn’t released to the public. It wasn’t captured on a cell phone so it’s not surprising that it wasn’t in the immediate live footage in the news.

          But even the live video from the day shows him driving towards the crowd, flooring it over a speedbump, and running into the crowd without braking until he reversed out of it.

          Maybe it was all a conspiracy, or maybe this guy was an asshole who tried to kill people and succeeded in doing so. But the latter scenario means that it wasn’t the fault of the people you hate, so it must be false.

          1. The video at the time didn’t show anything about his intent. All it showed was him running into the crowd but showed none of what happened before that. You couldn’t tell from the video if he had done it intentionally or was running for his life from an angry mob. That is why I said it was totally irresponsible for the media to claim the guy was guilty of murder and terrorism based on the video.

            They did find other video that showed the context. And from what I have read the other video makes it pretty clear he intended to do what he did and was not under any durress when he did it.

            1. From the video at the time, you could see him back up after hitting the crowd, and there was no sign of any mob nearby. So I always thought a self-defense case showing sufficient reasonable fear of imminent harm was very unlikely from the get go. But you’re not wrong that it’s good for the media to be overly cautious about rushing to judgement in these sorts of cases.

              1. This ‘other video’ that’s not been released to the public is suspect at best.

                If it’s so damning, show us. Because nothing else damns the man directly.

                From the main videos after the attack–the ones that show him backing up–you cannot see a mob behind him anywhere–but you can’t see past the intersection BEFORE the one where he hit the people–the intersection he blew through on the videos from before the attack.

                And the media had him hung before they’d even arrested him.

                1. “is suspect at best” according to who? The only people (aside from those who outright support what he did) who are skeptical of the evidence against Fields are people who want him to be innocent because him being guilty fits the narrative of their political opponents rather than their own.

                  Even without the surveillance video (and supportive eyewitness testimony), he gets found guilty at least of second-degree murder. You can’t just run a crowd of people over and then claim you were being chased by a mob of people (which I’m not sure if Fields even tried to claim at trial) and get off when there is zero evidence the mob existed.

                  I also found these stories from a year ago, when the charges were upped to first degree murder

                  https://tinyurl.com/y83p4fpb

                  https://tinyurl.com/yb333c9z

                  1. “Surveillance footage from a Virginia State Police helicopter, played by prosecutors in court, captured the moment of impact by the car and the cursing of the startled troopers on board. The video then showed the car as it reversed, drove away and eventually pulled over. The helicopter had been monitoring the violence, and prosecutors questioned Charlottesville Police Detective Steven Young about the video as it played.

                    Another surveillance video from a restaurant showed the car head slowly in what Young testified was the direction of the counterprotesters, who were not in view of the camera. The car reversed before speeding forward into the frame again.

                    After that footage, a man in the crowd shouted an expletive and cried out, “Take me out.” He and others left the courtroom.”

                    “On the video, police radio traffic can be heard and as the car first hits the group of people, one officer said, “S***. Oh, crap. Did you see that?”

                    As the camera follows the erratic path of the Dodge as it wends through downtown Charlottesville, one of the officers said, “Christ, I can’t believe he just did that.”

                    Prosecutors also showed surveillance video footage from one of the restau-rants near the Fourth Street intersection of the mall. As the Dodge is seen racing down the street towards the protesters, a few of the victims in the courtroom made loud noises of disgust and left.”

                    The video was played openly in court. Enough evidence for you to reach the obvious conclusion?

                    1. Police were not on the scene.

                      Not so that any of them could say ‘Shit. Oh, crap. Did you see that?” unless that line was from the cops in the helicopter ( and it might be–I think I’ve seen that footage.)

                      This–

                      Another surveillance video from a restaurant showed the car head slowly in what Young testified was the direction of the counterprotesters, who were not in view of the camera. The car reversed before speeding forward into the frame again.

                      and this–

                      Prosecutors also showed surveillance video footage from one of the restau-rants near the Fourth Street intersection of the mall. As the Dodge is seen racing down the street towards the protesters

                      I may have seen the second, I want to see the first.

                      And I want to see whatever it is that clarified his intent.

                      Because I still think second degree at most. I’m more in the camp that he wasn’t actually trying to kill anyone, but he didn’t care if he did. And he wanted to hurt them. What’s that called?

                    2. If there were no police on the ground then it must have been from the helicopter, what other explanation is there?

                      If you intentionally run people over and someone dies as a result, you can be guilty of murder even if you only wanted to hurt them, which nobody can know. You might get it down to manslaughter under that argument if you could argue that what you were doing to hurt them was something that was unlikely to kill a person, not when you run people over in an automobile.

                    3. I’m more in the camp that he wasn’t actually trying to kill anyone, but he didn’t care if he did. And he wanted to hurt them. What’s that called?

                      That’s called murder 1.

    2. As John pointed out, the evidence refutes any claim of self-defense. The mob only came after him after he ran through the crowd, he idled down the street away from the crowd and then decided to reverse to gain more speed before ramming them.

      And I don’t think you can defend yourself from a charge of murder with “Yes I rammed that crowd and that woman died, but I didn’t specifically intend to kill her personally.” Also, Heyer’s DNA was found on Fields’s car so it does appear that he directly hit her.

      1. Has any neutral-ish site written down everything we know from the trial? e.g. “then decided to reverse to gain more speed before ramming them.” I see this talking point but also that he never got up to 30mph.

        1. I’m not sure if there’s a convenient source covering everything about the trial or what would count as “neutral-ish.”

          Regardless of neutrality, unless NBCNews is lying here (and from a Google search other sources also report this), “prosecutors also played surveillance video showing Fields driving his car slowly toward the group, before putting his car in reverse and then speeding into them.”

          https://tinyurl.com/ya7f3hw7

          1. “I’m not sure if there’s a convenient source covering everything about the trial or what would count as “neutral-ish.””

            I’m pretty sure the trial transcript would qualify as a neutral source. Don’t know if it’s convenient or not.

          2. Surveillance video………..riiight.

            Surveillance video that directly contradicts the numerous live feeds shot on the day.

            Because I watched it happen live and there was no “driving his car slowly toward the group, before putting his car in reverse and then speeding into them.”

            There were a bunch of protesters surrounding cars in an intersection and this other car barreled into them, the cars, the protesters, everything.

            If he had tried driving his car slowly toward the group, before putting his car in reverse and then speeding into them tons of people would have seen–because they were looking up the street, they would have reacted. But it happened so fast that all you see are people starting to react.

            1. You seriously find it easier to believe that the prosecution faked surveillance video to show the jury than that this guy intentionally tried to kill people? Is violence that doesn’t fit your preferred narrative that inconceivable?

              Please show me video that contradicts this. The live video from that day just shows a few seconds right before impact as he’s driving down the street. He idled a few blocks down the street before reversing and accelerating (which was corroborated by witnesses in addition to the video). What he was doing wouldn’t have been apparent to the crowd until seconds before it happened – before he reversed and accelerated hundreds of feet down the street it wouldn’t have been obvious that he was about to carry out a car attack, and it doesn’t take very long to drive a few hundred feet which doesn’t leave a ton of time for people to notice and react. But even still, in the live cell phone video you do hear people scream and see them start to move out of the way in the seconds before impact.

              1. No. What I’m saying is that I watched this happen live. In real time. As it was happening.

                Idling a few blocks away AND reversing and accelerating? Why? Could his car not get any speed in a “few blocks”?

                Does that sound right to you? It sounds like something you’d see in a cartoon.

                And I don’t know what kind of tiny place you live in, but a few blocks isn’t a few hundred feet.

                I watched this fiasco from the get-go because there’s gonna be a camel that breaks the straw back.. And this looked like it might be one. The thing started to unravel as it became clear that it was an alt right event–all the sane folks bowed out. Then antifa started shrieking. And then there was that hideous torchlight parade.

                So I cued up multiple feeds and watched as many livestreams as I could find. I saw it first on Faith Goldy’s stream, then on Ruptly (or RT), then I started looking for little streams, channels or snippets.

                And I didn’t see what they’re describing as what happened.

                And on that cell phone video you do, in fact, see people start to react. Which is what I said. Starting.

                If I can still find those channels, I’ll post links later.

                1. So these streams showed the entirety of the attack and the lead up to it? They show him entering 4th street and everything that happened afterward? And apparently the defense didn’t realize the existence of these publicly available videos?

                  I will concede that “a few” blocks was not accurate, and that it was my language, not the prosecutions. From the indictment:

                  “FIELDS slowly proceeded in his vehicle toward the crowd and stopped and observed the crowd while idling in his vehicle. With no vehicle behind him, FIELDS then slowly reversed his vehicle back toward the top of the hill, near the intersection of Fourth and East Market (“Market”) Streets.”

                  The Google Maps link below shows the area – counting Main St, Market street is two blocks away from Water St, where the impact happened. The indictment doesn’t say exactly where on 4th st he was when idling, but there’s plenty of space for him to do it between Market and Water. I don’t find him reversing here to have more space to accelerate to be some cartoonish, absurd scenario. Certainly not to the point where it’s more believable that the prosecution somehow faked surveillance video and coerced false eyewitness testimony to corroborate it in order to show this happening when there’s apparently public video out there somewhere that would disprove it.

                  https://tinyurl.com/y7mq6btm

                  1. It’s also not puzzling to me why the crowd didn’t react sooner in this scenario – until he started to accelerate towards them, he was just some guy in a car idling down the street. Are you saying the average person should have noticed that this guy was about to commit a car attack when he was just idling?

                    1. Have you seen the video of the car going through the intersection at the top of the street?

                      Or video from the Water/4th intersection from before this happened? When it was just protesters harassing stopped cars?

                      I’m having issues with this because what they’re describing looks very different from what I saw.

                  2. Have you ever been to Charlottesville? The place is confusing as shit on a Sunday morning, much less in the middle of a state-encourage riot.

                    1. Not sure what you’re trying to say here. He was confused so he accidentally decided to run through the crowd? Also, there was no riot in his immediate vicinity when he attacked.

                    2. Not sure what you’re trying to say here. He was confused so he accidentally decided to run through the crowd?

                      When one is genuinely not sure what people mean, the first thing one should do is accuse them of absurdities.

          3. But prosecutors also played surveillance video showing Fields driving his car slowly toward the group, before putting his car in reverse and then speeding into them.

            Yea … I’m gonna need more than that.

            1. I’m sure you will. If the options Nazi asshole deliberately ran people over as all the evidence indicates and the prosecution faked surveillance video to prove it, it’s tough to know which is the more likely scenario.

              1. Does it feel good to make up straw men and outright lie constantly?

                1. You apparently think surveillance video showing him idling, reversing, and then driving towards the group isn’t good enough proof of that claim. My comment was intentionally snide, but it was deserved. Exactly what are you looking for here? You need more than that to show what?

                  1. You need more than that to show what?

                    You’ve shown me one sentence in a local news report you lying piece of shit.

                    1. NBCNews isn’t a local news outlet, and I said in that same post that this was easily confirmable with other sources via Google. My bad for assuming that you’re capable enough to confirm that if the NBC link wasn’t good enough for you. Elsewhere upthread I linked two other stories in a reply to Azatoth from last year when the indictment was upped to first degree murder that describe this video (and video from a police helicopter) being played in court for witnesses to see, which led to multiple people leaving the courtroom in disgust. Is that good enough or do you expect me to link a video that isn’t available on the Internet?

                    2. Elsewhere upthread I linked two other stories in a reply to Azatoth from last year when the indictment was upped to first degree murder that describe this video (and video from a police helicopter) being played in court for witnesses to see

                      I took the time to read those articles. They say video shows him idling around and then running people down. That’s … not in dispute.

                      which led to multiple people leaving the courtroom in disgust.

                      Leftist theatrics? Man, must’ve been an awful video.

                      Is that good enough or do you expect me to link a video that isn’t available on the Internet?

                      This started with a simple request from me: “Has any neutral-ish site written down everything we know from the trial?”

                      A simiple “not that I know of” would’ve sufficed.

                    3. Then what is in dispute here? Also, your claim that it isn’t in dispute is not true in this thread at least, as Azathoth has been disputing that.

                      I included that line just to illustrate that the video was shown openly, not just to the jury.

                      I did say that I wasn’t sure if there was a comprehensive source, and that I was unsure of what would count as “neutral-ish.” I then provided a link in response to your specific example that followed in your original post.

                    4. Then what is in dispute here?

                      Did he “reverse to gain more speed before ramming them” or did he stay below 30mph?

                  2. Yeah, because Rodney King was just some dude walking down the street when the cops decided to beat him to hell for no reason whatsoever and everyone here knows prosecutors are only in it for truth and the public good, they’d never mislead anyone.

                    It’s not like we’ve never seen selective editing of the facts to support a narrative before and that’s what this looks like. The fact that his lawyer seems to have simply voted present instead of doing his job makes it difficult to believe (remember Reginald Denny anyone?).

                    1. What the fuck does Rodney King have to do with this? You’ve got nothing here, so bring up some irrelevant other case to argue with no proof that system must have railroaded him?

                      How exactly does it look like what happened here was a selective editing of the facts? Are you arguing the video is fake or that they manipulated it to avoid showing something that would exonerate Fields? What do you think happened, and what’s the evidence to support your argument?

        2. The argument below is exactly why I want to see somebody neutral establish what has and hasn’t been proven. Backing up and flooring a Challenger is not compatible with a top speed below 30 mph.

          1. below above

          2. So he must be innocent if he only ran into people at 30 mph? Also remember that he had to go over a speedbump before hitting the crowd.

            1. Backing up and flooring a Challenger is not compatible with a top speed below 30 mph.

              So he must be innocent if he only ran into people at 30 mph?

              Fuck you.

              1. Can you at least be honest about what you’re getting at here? He hit the crowd at 30 mph, what do you think that implies? At first it seemed like you were genuinely skeptical of the idling and reversing story because you hadn’t heard what all the evidence was, but after you said that surveillance video showing it isn’t sufficient proof I’m a little skeptical that you’re acting in good faith here, hence the strawman on my part.

                Maybe he didn’t totally floor it the whole way because he didn’t want to completely fuck up his car or lose control going over the speedbump. Maybe he was afraid of getting hurt in the crash or wrecking his car (and thus be unable to escape) if he was going too fast. If video shows him idling and reversing before charging the crowd, then an explanation along those lines make a lot more sense than any other alternative.

                1. Here’s the thing: you’re the lying piece of shit. Not me. You.

                  I’m not getting at anything that I haven’t explicitly stated.

                  after you said that surveillance video showing it isn’t sufficient proof

                  Are you diagnosed with something? This is pathological.

                  1. My bad for interpreting your quote of the “prosecutors showed …” line as you doubting the validity of the video (like Azathoth does) rather than a skepticism of the news story, which I had previously stated was easily confirmable via Google. I hadn’t read your other reply where you clarified that it was the latter. Let me know how many more links you want before you’ll accept it.

                    1. ctrl+f “prosecutors showed” 1/1

                      Seriously man. You have issues. Get help.

                    2. Are you seriously getting wound up because I said “showed” instead of “also played” based off my off the top of my head recollection of the article? I didn’t bother looking up the exact wordage because I didn’t think that particularly mattered and I figured a reasonable person would know what I was referring to.

                    3. Yes, a reasonable person would read an entire thread to figure out what a compulsive liar might have been referring to. That’s more or less the definition “reasonable person” I think.

  6. This murder was committed in Virginia. For whatever reason, the state of Virginia has decided that this guy shouldn’t be executed. I really don’t see where the feds get off stepping in and trying to execute him. The state of Virginia is within its rights to choose not to do so. This case should be done with.

    1. I see that the Guardian said the right-wing Charlottesville demonstrators were “emboldened by the election of Donald Trump.”

      And if it had happened under Obama they would have said “enraged at the election of a black President.”

      1. Oops, that comment wasn’t supposed to be threaded.

      2. That “newspaper” is one of the most racist rags out there.

        1. Agree.

    2. In this particular case – re Virginia specifically – I agree.

      Virginia used to be a huge ‘kill em’ state. Where the death penalty is used for electoral politics. But that has pretty clearly changed. There are only 3 people on death row now in Virginia. No one has been sentenced to death for 5 years.

      The only remaining states where I can see a hypothetical case for the feds ‘upping the stakes to execution’ is states where the penalty is still widely imposed and where judicial elections are partisan. Where the penalty could be a form of electoral dogwhistling – ie we’re gonna kill ‘other’ to be tough on crime but don’t worry winkwink about any of ‘us’ being sentenced to that – that in effect is a selective nullification of the death penalty.

      Those would be Texas (224 on death row), Alabama (177), North Carolina (140), Louisiana (80).

      1. And even when Virginia was a huge ‘kill em state-none of those executed have been for crimes committed in C-ville. It has always been very anti-death penalty. In this case though, even if they wanted to, I think it would be very difficult to get a death sentence, and think it will be even harder for a federal jury to give one. I also would not be surprised if the case isn’t thrown out on appeal because they did not move the trial out of C-ville.

        1. I don’t think the defense tried to move it from C’Ville. If the defense didn’t move for a change of venue, then it almost certainly won’t be overturned on appeal for the trial occuring there. Courts are loath to second guess the tactical decisions of defense attorneys.

          1. John, do you have the internet where you are?

            http://www.nbc29.com/story/389…..08-22-2018

            1. I stand corrected. I can’t believe they didnt’ move the venue. Nick has a good point. This case may end up being retried.

  7. I can envision a scenario where the state authorities conspire with the defendant to give him a slap on the wrist or let him off altogether – I would argue that this could be prosecuted as an equal protection violation – that is, failing to give the victim equal protection.

    But in the actual case at hand, this defendant seems headed for a life sentence. A federal prosecution goes beyond justice and is simply an attempt by the feds to mark their territory.

  8. The death penalty turns this idiot into a martyr. I hope he is not convicted on this charge. Though of course there is a certain delicious irony that his ‘people’, who he was supposedly fighting for, are now trying to kill him.

  9. http://southpark.cc.com/clips/…..-committee

    I’ll just leave this here.

  10. It is unclear how Fields could have done anything In the ‘first degree’. He started blocks away from the intersection antifa protesters had blocked while the were harassing OTHER motorists. He could not have known they were there until he entered the top of the block, let alone have known who he might hit.

    But the outcome of this trial was never in doubt. It’s a show trial, with a designated victim and a designated fall guy.

    1. In terms of basic first degree murder, for the premeditation element, it’s enough that he had premeditated intent to kill someone/anyone. It’s not necessary that he have a specific victim in mind.

      1. Yeah, see….that’s the problem.

        They’re saying things happened that didn’t happen.

    2. Premeditation doesn’t require that you had it planned out hours or days in advance. As long as the thought process occurs before the act, it qualifies even if it all happens in a very short timeframe. If he saw the crowd, thought about and then decided to run them over, did it, and killed someone then that qualifies as first-degree murder.

      1. Yeah, see, that’s the thing. If you were watching this thing as it happened, you’d know there was no ‘saw the crowd, thought’ moment.

        The car came through the prior intersection and was in among the people in seconds. That whole ‘backed up, idled’ thing never happened.

        1. I’m not sure if it’s delusion, stupidity, or arrogance that makes you convinced that nothing relevant could have happened before the 3 seconds before the crash were caught on cell phone video that was immediately released.

          Please link me to the video that was released at the time showing the full lead-up to the attack and disproves the prosecution’s argument – which the defense for some reason didn’t try to contest even though according to you there’s publicly-available evidence that proves it’s wrong.

          I’m still trying to figure out what your overall argument about what happened is – are you saying that he decided spur-of-the-moment without thinking to run over the crowd (which would be second degree murder) but the prosecution decided to fake evidence to get first-degree, or are you saying it was an accident and the prosecution faked evidence to prove (first-degree) murder?

          1. What I’m saying is that this doesn’t match what I saw.

            And yes, there’s video taken by protesters and counterprotesters of this intersection taken before the incident BECAUSE it was one of the few places, hours after the alt-right had been routed, where the counterprotesters were still managing to surround and harass motorists.

            And yes, the whole thing seemed very second degree to me. I suspect that the prosecutors managed to engender just enough questions that premeditation could have been possible to a jury who’s lived for over a year with this guy being described as a depraved monster.

            But that doesn’t change the fact that what they’re describing isn’t what I saw. Live. From three angles.

  11. Next on the docket, this ham sandwich…

  12. Except Heyer died of a heart attack. It’s not clear she was even hit.

    1. Heard that too. Probably true. We should demand to see the autopsy photos and report.

  13. White supremacists are very bad drivers. All those people and only one dead? The Nice truck murderer nabbed 86 dead. The Berlin truck murderer ran down 12 to death. Maybe the DMV should also prosecute Fields.

  14. Lots of people here sure seem to have a lot of concern for the accurate application of justice to this Nazi. How do you possibly have the time what with all the Black Lives Matter activism you obviously must be doing? Because you care so much about the fair application of justice.

    1. “If you’re really concerned with justice, you’ll advocate for a movement with a double digit body count.” That’s genius, Tony.

      1. The Nazis claim quite a few more digits, I think.

        1. Are you really bragging that your people are, on at least one dimension, better than the Third Reich?

          1. I’m expressing distress that so many people at a libertarian website are so beside themselves over a Nazi murderer getting a prison sentence.

            1. Are you feeling distress, or merely expressing it?

              1. I don’t feel things except occasional digestive discomfort.

                1. That’ll happen when you treat your rectum like a bus station locker.

  15. Why did I just read all that?

  16. Fields is not a murderer and deserves no punishment. He did the only thing he could do to escape a crowd that had surrounded his car and was forcing their way in with baseball bats. I would have done the same, because I remember what happened to Reginald Denny.

    I hope this judge and jury all get doxed.

    1. jdgalt1, you are correct. A little introspection and objectivity would show the foolishness of this arrest and falseness of the claim that he is a murderer.

      Many of us would have done the same when surrounded by an angry crowd, for whatever reason they were angry. If one has ever experienced a riot in the streets, then the first thing any rational person would do is try to escape any way possible.

      Yes, more people ought to remember the situation like this in which Reginald Denny found himself. And he was killed by the riotous crowd.

      But in our PC world, remembering and acting rationally are nearly forbidden.

  17. I don’t doubt the veracity of his actions resulting in killing a person, and killing a person is always a crime whether accidental or purposeful.

    What I fault is the use of the term “hate crime”. “Hate crime” is so subjective that it could mean anything depending on many factors impossible to determine. To my knowledge there is no way of testing an arrest or indictment without defining hate.

    Regardless of the fact that we all think we know what hate is, the whole idea of “hate crimes” is so ludicrous it defies rational thinking.

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  19. Such bullshit….what a bunch of filthy Jew-bag commie bastards the Fed lawyers are. They lie. There is no such thing as a “hate crime” in the first place. He drove into them because they were a bunch of commie cockroach terrorists, who really, if we’re being honest…all deserved to get hit for playing in the street and obstructing traffic for the purposes of carrying out political terror as a mob. They were rioting.

    What a travesty of justice.

    Heather Heyer would be alive today, (assuming she didn’t die of natural causes like being an obese lardass first) if she had been a good citizen and had exhibited good citizenship instead of blocking a public street for the express purpose of infringing on the civil rights of other citizens.

    She is dead, and that’s a good thing. The nation is better off without her and those like her. But making shit up about the incident, does a disservice to us all.

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