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Judge: Car crash meme admissible in Charlottesville murder trial

People fly into the air as a vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. The nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. (Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP)

WASHINGTON — The Instagram post shows a car ramming into a crowd of protesters — strikingly reminiscent of the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo taken a split-second after James Alex Fields allegedly plowed into counterprotesters on the day of the 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Prosecutors told jurors Fields, a 21-year-old Ohio man, posted the meme online twice, approximately three months before the Unite the Right rally on Aug. 12, 2017.

In opening statements, the defense acknowledged Fields was behind the wheel of the Dodge Challenger that struck and killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer on Fourth Street.

Jurors heard testimony from Ryan Kelly, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his photo showing Marcus Martin and others flying through the air after being struck.

In the commonwealth’s motion to admit the memes, it included a meme, on left, that was sent through Instagram private message with language added by Fields, “When I see protesters blocking,” and, on right, a meme in a public Instagram post that was put up a few days later. The memes were put online in May 2017, months before the crash. (Images via court documents)

Prosecutors argued the Instagram post was a “blueprint” for the fatal crash, and was indicative of Fields’ “intent, motive and state of mind.”

Defense attorneys tried to prevent the admission of the Instagram post, claiming it was prejudicial. Charlottesville Circuit Judge Richard Moore disagreed.

Although jurors heard about the Instagram meme, they have not yet seen it.


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