Text messages, calls allowed as evidence in Fields trial

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- On Tuesday, jurors watched an interrogation video from when Fields was arrested, and two phone calls made to his mother while he was in jail.

Fields refused to speak in his interrogation tape and only asked for a lawyer, but began crying and hyperventilating when police told him one person had died and several others were hurt in the crash.

In a recorded phone call to his mother from jail on March 21, 2018, Fields told his mother he was "mobbed by a violent group of terrorists."

"They were waving the ISIS flag," he said while referring to them as anti-fascists. "They support them."

"Everybody supports something," Fields mother replied. "I don't see one better than the other."

In a recorded phone call from Dec. 7, 2017, Fields referred to Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, as an enemy.

"She's one of those anti-white supremacists," said Fields, who also referred to her as a communist.

"She lost her daughter," his mother replied.

"It doesn't [expletive] matter," Fields responded.

Fields' mother then seemed to get angry at her son for that response and told him to stop talking.

Although the jail tapes were admitted as evidence, several parts were redacted due to an objection by the defense.

Only relevant portions were played for the jury, and the jury received copies of them in transcript form.

In both calls, Fields talks about the Nazi flag, Antifa and counter-protesters from Aug. 12, which the judge says also could show malice.

Earlier on Tuesday morning, the judge ruled text exchanges between Fields and his mother before the Unite the Right rally on Aug. 12, 2017 could be submitted as evidence.

He says the jury has the right to consider the texts as evidence because he says they show motive and Fields' state of mind at the time.

On Aug. 8, 2017, Fields texted his mother, "I got the weekend off, so I'll be able to go to the rally."

Two days later, she replied urging him to be careful.

Fields then replied on Aug. 11, "We're not the one [sic] who need to be careful." He also sent a small image of Adolf Hitler.

The prosecution argues this shows malice, which is a critical part of the first-degree murder charge Fields faces for the death of Heyer.

The defense says the image shows prejudice and has no value as evidence in the case.

The judge sided with the Commonwealth, saying the image shows malice, including both hatred and danger, which the jury has the right to see.

The motions hearing on this evidence took most of the morning, delaying when the prosecutors could continue calling witnesses.

The prosecution rested its case around 2:40 p.m. Tuesday

About two dozen witnesses were called to testify regarding the car attack on Fourth and Water streets.

The defense started presenting its case Tuesday afternoon, saying Fields acted in self-defense.

Fields' attorneys say he feared for his life and had no intent to kill anyone when the crash occurred.

One of the defense's first witnesses was Tammy Shifflett, the Charlottesville Police Department officer who had been manning the barricade at Market and Fourth streets.

She testified she was in place to direct traffic onto Market so vehicles could not take Fourth toward the Downtown Mall, but she started to get overwhelmed and moved a few minutes before the crash.

"It was definitely more than I could handle by myself," said Shifflett. "The crowd was just overtaking me."

The defense also made a procedural motion to strike all charges except one, claiming the Commonwealth didn't prove the intent to kill.

Judge Richard Moore denied the motion, saying "I don't know what intent he could have had other than to kill people."

The trial is moving much faster than initially anticipated, though it is still scheduled to last through next week.



 
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