Man who drove car into protesters in Virginia convicted of murder

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail shows James Alex Fields Jr., accused of plowing a car into a crowd of people protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., killing a woman and injuring dozens more, has been charged with federal hate crimes. The Department of Justice announced that Fields was charged in an indicted returned Wednesday, June 27, 2018. (Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail via AP, File)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — James Fields Jr., who drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally in Virginia, was convicted Friday of first-degree murder.

In delivering its verdict late Friday afternoon, the jury rejected arguments by lawyers that he acted in self-defense.

Prosecutors said Fields drove his car directly into a crowd of counterprotesters at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017, because he was angry after witnessing earlier violent clashes between the two sides. The rally was held to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Fields’ lawyers told the jury he feared for his life after witnessing the violence.

The 21-year-old Fields of Maumee, Ohio, faces up to life in prison at sentencing.