Violent Clashes Erupt at "Unite The Right" Rally In Charlottesville
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Charlottesville Killer Found Guilty Of First-Degree Murder, Hit And Run

A Virginia jury convicted James Alex Fields Jr. of multiple charges in the death of Heather Heyer.

James Alex Fields Jr. was found guilty Friday (Dec. 7) in the murder of Heather Heyer, during the Charlottesville riots last year. Jurors in Virginia deliberated for less than eight hours before returning a first-degree murder conviction, the Associated Press reports.

Fields claimed self-defense drove him to ram his Dodge Charger into a crowd during last summer’s "Unite the Right" rally, a notion which the jury ultimately rejected. Prosecutors argued the that 21-year-old Nazi sympathizer deliberately sped his vehicle through a crowd of counter-protesters striking “numerous individuals,” one of which was Heyer, a 32-year-old legal assistant marching against the white nationalist riot.

In addition to murder, for which he faces 20 years to life in prison, Fields was  convicted on nine charges including hit and run, and five counts of aggravated malicious wounding.  A sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin Dec. 9.

Fields could be in line for the death penalty, if convicted on 30 federal hate crime charges. No trial date has been set in the case.

READ MORE: Man Attacked By Nazis At Charlottesville Riots Recalls Harrowing Incident

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Charles Eckert

Chanel Lewis Sentenced To Life In Prison For Murder Of Queens Jogger

A New York judge sentenced the man accused of sexually assaulting and murdering a Queens jogger to life in prison Tuesday, (April 23) despite there being accusations of a coerced confession and jury misconduct.

Cheers broke out inside a courtroom when 22-year-old Chanel Lewis learned his fate. He spoke briefly in court apologizing to the victim's family. “I’m innocent,” Lewis said. “I’m sorry for the family’s loss, but I didn’t do this.”

The victim, Karina Vetrano, 30, went jogging on a park trail in Howard Beach, Queens in August 2016 when prosecutors say she was sexually assaulted and brutally murdered. Her body was discovered in August 2016 by her father.

Lewis' sentencing was initially postponed amid accusations of jury misconduct. However, Judge Michael Aloise decided Monday to move forward with the sentencing. Lewis' first trial resulted in a hung jury and his defense team stated that a desire to swiftly put the case away led to Tuesday's sentencing.

“While there is no denying that Karina Vetrano’s death is tragic and that her family and friends suffered a great loss, every aspect of this case – from the police investigation to jury deliberations – was propelled by a desire to convict at all costs,” The Legal Aid Society, which represents Lewis, said in a statement.

Lewis' defense argued his two-taped confessions were coerced and there wasn't enough DNA evidence linking him to the crime. During the confession, Lewis reportedly said he was upset at his neighbor for playing loud music and when he saw Vetrano he "lost it."

He said he strangled the jogger but didn't sexually assault her. His defense team argued the DNA evidence wasn't gathered properly and didn't match the victim's injuries.

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Muhammed Selim Korkutata

Alabama Deputy On Leave After Comments About Gay Teen's Suicide

An Alabama deputy has been placed on leave after making insensitive comments on social media about a teen who committed suicide after allegedly being bullied for his sexual orientation.

According to reports, the officer has been with the Madison County Sheriff's Office in Huntsville for 12 years and sparked backlash for referring to LGBTQ qualms as "a fake movement which requires no special attention but by persons with an altered ego and fake agenda."

"Liberty. Guns. Bible. Trump. BBQ. That’s my kind of LGBTQ. I’m seriously offended that there is such a thing such as this movement," the deputy allegedly wrote in a Facebook post. "Society cannot and should not accept this behavior. I have a right to be offended and will always be offended by this fake movement which requires no special attention but by persons with an altered ego and fake agenda.”

The law enforcement officer defended his statement as freedom of speech before it was taken down. It was made in reference to 15-year-old Nigel Shelby who took his own life Thursday (April 18) after being bullied for being gay.

In a statement, Monday, the Madison County Sheriff's Office revealed a deputy had been placed on leave, while Local sheriff Kevin Turner offered kind words to the friends and family of Nigel Shelby.

Turner said: “Bullying of any group or person in or outside of schools is unacceptable, and I welcome any and all efforts to raise awareness to bullying and bring bullying to a stop. The Madison County Sheriff’s Office is proud of the community support and engagement we have received over the years, and we look forward to growing those community partnerships.”

 

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Courtesy of KSDK

Teacher Arrested For Hiring A Hitman To Kill The Child He Allegedly Molested

A St. Louis teacher accused of molesting a then 7-year-old boy reportedly hired a hitman to kill the child and family.

According to Newsweek, Deonte Taylor worked as a teacher's assistant at Lusher Elementary School in 2015 when he allegedly removed the boy from the class, took him to an empty classroom engaging the child in oral sex. Although the boy's family reported the incident to local authorities at the time, Taylor wasn't arrested.

Between 2015 to 2018, Taylor worked toward his teacher's license and became a fifth-grade teacher at Walnut Grove Elementary school in the Ferguson-Florissant School District, and since he wasn't charged he was able to teach.

"Mr. Taylor went through the same process that all of our teaching candidates go through. Everyone goes through a criminal background check, sexual abuse registry background check and there was nothing that showed up on that," Ferguson-Florissant School District spokesperson Kevin Hampton told KSDK.

In November 2018, however, Taylor was arrested after DNA evidence proved his sample matched the DNA evidence of the victim.

Taylor, 36, faces three charges of statutory-sodomy.

While in jail awaiting trial, Taylor reportedly hired someone to kill the boy, now 10 and his family. He convinced his 66-year-old boyfriend Michael Johnson, to pay the hitman to carry out the fatal deed, which he did. However, the hitman turned an informant and exposed the plan to authorities.

Along with his charges stemming from child molestation, Taylor now faces two counts of conspiracy to commit murder and two counts of attempting to tamper with a victim in a felony prosecution. Johnson faces the same charges.

Both men appeared in a St. Louis court last week and pled not guilty. They're being held in jail without bond.

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