'Unite the Right' rally organizer seeks new venue for perjury trial

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP, WCAV) — A lawyer for the chief organizer of August's Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' rally is seeking a change of venue for a trial over a perjury charge.

The charge facing Jason Kessler is unrelated to the Aug. 12 rally where a woman was killed after a car plowed into a group of counterprotesters.

It's instead connected to an indictment claiming that Kessler lied about an alleged assault charge against man.

Court records showed he gave a statement to a magistrate saying he was assaulted by James Taylor on the Downtown Mall while collecting signatures for a petition to remove Wes Bellamy from the Charlottesville City Council.

Prosecutors say video of the January incident showed Kessler's version of the story was not true.

The charge against Taylor was later dismissed, and Kessler pleaded guilty to an assault charge in April.

The incident that resulted in the assault charges did occur within Charlottesville city boundaries, but the perjury indictment came through Albemarle County, because the statement alleging the assault was made to a magistrate at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, which is located in the county.

Now, attorney Michael Hallahan told a judge Wednesday that Kessler wouldn't be able to have a fair trial in the area because of "negative news coverage." He has also argued that lawyers in the Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney's Office have been quoted making negative comments about his client.

There will be a hearing on the change of venue motion in January.