Last year, a statue of Robert E. Lee divided the state of Virginia in the “Unite The Right” rally-turned riot. The violent protest charged debates about whether the monument of the Confederate Army General and notoriously brutal slave owner should remain standing. Amid the turbulence, white supremacists united in the beating of 20-year-old DeAndre Harris in a nearby parking garage. On Tuesday (May 1), after nearly a year of trials, the reported assailant, Jacob Scott Goodwin, 23, was found guilty.
Harris reportedly suffered a broken arm, abrasions to the head that required eight staples and spinal injury. Footage of the August 2018 attack helped prosecutors track down Goodwin and the other perpetrators involved. The video suggests there were six men involved in the incident. Three other men were arrested.
Goodwin, an Arkansas native, was arrested two months after the incident, and at the time, he claimed he was acting in self defense. “I thought he was hostile… to be honest, I was terrified,” he said. “I’d probably perish or be sent to the hospital and be terribly hurt.”
Elmer Woodard, Goodwin’s attorney, argued his client “came to exercise free speech” while Harris went to “abuse free speech,” The Washington Post reports. But Nina-Alice Antony, an assistant commonwealth’s attorney couldn’t agree less. “He was outfitted for battle,” she said. “He’s got large goggles, boots. He’s got a full body shield.” Goodwin allegedly wore a military tactical helmet accompanied by a large shield.
A jury of nine women and three men convicted Goodwin, recommending a sentence of ten years with the option of suspending some time, and a $20,000 fine, the Post reported. Following the verdict, Goodwin and his mother shared similar sentiments, gasping loudly after the sentence was divulged.
Judge Richard E. Moore will sentence Goodwin on Aug. 23, the maximum sentence being 20 years.