One of the white supremacists who viciously beat a black man inside a parking garage during last year’s “Unite the Right” rally here was found guilty Tuesday night of malicious wounding.
Jacob Scott Goodwin, 23, who wore a military tactical helmet and brandished a large shield during the Aug. 12 attack against DeAndre Harris, was convicted by a jury of nine women and three men.
The jury recommended a sentence of 10 years, with the option of suspending some of the time, and a $20,000 fine. The presiding judge, Richard E. Moore, will set the sentence on Aug. 23. When the court clerk read the jury’s recommendation, Goodwin’s mother let out a loud gasp.
Her son had testified that he “was terrified” and was trying to protect himself during the confrontation.
The assault on Harris, 20, a former special education instructional assistant, was so ferocious that he suffered a spinal injury, a broken arm and head lacerations that required eight staples.
Online footage of the beating has been viewed online tens of thousands of times and attracted a group of online sleuths, led by Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King. They tracked down the alleged perpetrators’ identities, including that of Goodwin, who lives in Ward, Ark. Goodwin was arrested about two months after the rally.
Goodwin’s attorney, Elmer Woodard, argued that Harris, then working as a YMCA camp counselor, came to pick a fight and that his client was just trying to defend himself.
“[Goodwin] came to exercise free speech. Mr. Harris went to abuse free speech — not to exercise it, but abuse it,” Woodward said in his opening statement.
He said it was Harris who went after Goodwin.
But Nina-Alice Antony, an assistant commonwealth’s attorney, said it was Goodwin who wanted to square off.
“He was outfitted for battle,” she told the jury. “He’s got large goggles, boots. He’s got a full body shield.”
The attack inside the Market Street parking garage, next to the Charlottesville Police Department, was one of several disturbing acts of violence during the rally, which was held to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a city park. A self-professed neo-Nazi is alleged to have rammed his Dodge Charger into a crowd of people that day, killing 32-year-old counterprotester Heather D. Heyer, a paralegal.
Videos of the parking garage attack on Harris — and of its preceding moments — have been scrutinized frame by frame by Harris’s defenders and white nationalists, each side debating whether Harris was a victim or an instigator.
Harris was acquitted in March of misdemeanor assault and battery against one of the white supremacists involved in the confrontation.
Nevertheless, much of Goodwin’s trial centered on whether Harris sparked the fight himself by striking a prominent white nationalist in the head with a flashlight.
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Ian Shapira