Final defense witness located after brief confusion in Fields trial
UPDATE (12:10 p.m. Dec. 6):
On Day 9 of the James Fields, Jr. murder trial in Charlottesville, a new investigation was temporarily underway.
As Fields' defense team continued to make their case, the final witness was called to the stand and discovered to not be in the courtroom.
When he could not be found, the judge issued a warrant for the witness' arrest and contacted the Augusta County Sheriff's Office to help locate him.
But within minutes, the witness was contacted and jurors were told that he was on his way to the court.
Stuck in a holding pattern until he could be located, the jurors were released for lunch until 1:15 p.m.
Jurors have heard testimony from a member of a left-wing defense group who claims he scared away a white nationalist who later drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters.
Dwayne Dixon was called Thursday by defense lawyers for James Alex Fields Jr. Fields is charged with first-degree murder and other counts for driving his gray Dodge Challenger into counterprotesters during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017.
One woman was killed and dozens more were injured.
Dixon is a teaching assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He said he's also a member of Redneck Revolt and was armed with an AR-15 and providing security for counterprotesters.
Dixon said he saw a gray "muscle car" drive by several times. He said he yelled "Get the (expletive) out of here" at the car while wearing his gun slung over his shoulder. He testified that he could not see the driver because the car had tinted windows.
Dixon said he believes that was about 30 minutes to an hour before Fields slammed into the group with his car.
Dixon has claimed previously that he used his gun to scare off a man he believes was Fields. During his testimony, he said he could not see the driver because the car had tinted windows.
Jurors in the trial of a man accused of killing a woman and injuring dozens at a white nationalist rally are expected to hear closing arguments in the case after testimony from final defense witnesses.
James Alex Fields Jr. is charged with first-degree murder and other counts for driving his car into a crowd of counterprotesters in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017.
Closing arguments are expected Thursday afternoon after the defense calls its last witnesses.
Fields' lawyers don't dispute that he plowed his car into the counterprotesters, but say he feared for his life after witnessing violent clashes between the two sides earlier that day.
Prosecutors say Fields drove from his home in Maumee, Ohio, to support the white nationalists. They say he was angry and intentionally struck the counterprotesters.
ORIGINAL STORY (Dec. 5):
Day eight of the James Fields, Jr. trial was slightly delayed on Wednesday due to an issue with the jury.
A juror told the judge they overheard someone talking about something they thought could have been related to the case.
Court was supposed to begin at 9 a.m., but the judge and attorneys had to question each of the jurors individually.
The judge said after questioning, what the juror overheard was not related to the case or facts of the case.
"These things happen," said Judge Richard Moore.
Once court began around 11 a.m., the defense called a Unite the Right rally attendee to the stand to testify about his interaction with Fields.
Hayden Calhoun, a Chesterfield County resident, said he parked at the Jefferson School to attend the Unite the Right rally at Emancipation Park with his then-girlfriend around 10 a.m. on Aug. 12, 2017.
Calhoun said he worked his way inside of the park and stayed for about 45 minutes, then had to use the restroom.
He said he walked to the McDonald's on Ridge Street. By the time he returned, violence had broken out and an unlawful assembly was declared.
Calhoun said he and his then-girlfriend followed a group of protesters to McIntire Park.
Shortly after, they decided to return to downtown, where they interacted with Fields and his friend Joshua Matthews and hitched a ride with them.
"They said us two would be targets if we went back alone," said Calhoun.
Fields eventually dropped them off back at their car.
Calhoun also testified he contacted the Richmond FBI office after he learned Fields was the suspect in the crash on Fourth Street.
Virginia State Police Senior Trooper Clifford Thomas testified about the reconstruction of the crash scene.
He said he accessed the airbag control modules and event data recorder, or EDR, from the vehicles involved.
There was no airbag control module data recovered from Field's Dodge Challenger. Thomas could not elaborate on why because each manufacturer constructs them differently, which causes them to activate at different speeds.
The minivan involved in the crash did not have one because it was manufactured before they were required.
However, Thomas did recover the module from Tay Washington's Toyota Camry, which help shed light on how fast Fields was driving when his car plowed into the crowd of people.
Thomas testified data from Washington's car showed the impact of the crash caused it to be pushed from zero miles per hour to 17.1 miles per hour in 150 milliseconds.
He also said he used aerial data footage to calculate Fields' speed before the crash, which showed he was traveling at 23 miles per hour, which was determined by using a stationary black truck as a reference point.
The truck was parked in the area before the crash happened.
Thomas said the maximum speed Fields was driving before the crash was 28 miles per hour.
A forensic scientist said Fields was just trying to find his way back home.
Philip DePue, who works for Sensei Enterprises, testified he retrieved data from Fields' cellphone from Aug. 12, finding two Google map searches for directions to Maumee, Ohio.
Those searches were conducted at 1:39 p.m., moments before Fields' car hit the crowd. There were two options, both taking Fields onto Market Street instead of continuing down Fourth Street.
"It was hard for us to determine which route was taken," said DePue. "When you request directions, it provides multiple locations."
The trial did not move as quickly as it had been on Wednesday, due to issues with the jury and technology
The defense is wrapping up its case and closing arguments are expected to begin Thursday.
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