Charge against accused in Charlottesville car attack upgraded to 1st-degree murder

Charge against accused in Charlottesville car attack upgraded to 1st-degree murder
From CBC - December 15, 2017

The second-degree murder charge against a man accused of driving into a crowd protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., has been upgraded tofirst degree afterahearingThursday duringwhich prosecutors presented surveillance video and other evidence.

Prosecutors announced at the start of thepreliminary hearing forJames Alex Fields that they were seeking to upgrade the charge from theAug. 12collision that left 32-year-old Heather Heyerdead and dozens wounded.

The judge agreed to the upgrade, and ruled there isprobable cause for all charges against Fields, including nine lesserfelony counts, to proceed.

Fields's case will now be presented to a grand jury for anindictment.

Authorities say the 20-year-old, described by a former teacher ashaving a keen interest in Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler, drove hisspeeding car into a group of people protestingaUnite the Rightrally that drew hundreds of white nationalistfrom around the country.

The attack came after the rally in thisVirginia college town had descended into chaoswith violentbrawling between attendees and counterdemonstratorsandauthorities had forced the crowd to disband.

Surveillance footage shown

Surveillance footage from a Virginia State Police helicopter,played by prosecutors in court, captured the moment of impact by thecar and the cursing of the startled troopers on board. The videothen showed the car as it reversed, drove away and eventually pulledover.

The helicopter had been monitoring the violence, andprosecutors questioned Charlottesville police Det. Steven Young
about the video as it played.

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

After that footage was shown, a man in the crowd shouted an expletive andcried out, "Take me out." He and others left the courtroom.

Fields's lawyer, Denise Lunsford, did not present evidence or make anyarguments at the hearing, although she did cross-examine thedetective.

No weapon found in car


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