A Virginia jury is deliberating for a second day in the trial of a white nationalist charged with all 10 counts of first-degree murder filed against him in connection with a 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Judge Andrew Giles declared a mistrial Wednesday afternoon after the jury asked to review some of the charges. There is no jury selection scheduled in the case.
Jason Kessler, 45, was charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 10 counts of malicious wounding in the August 2017 attack, which left Heather Heyer, 32, dead.
Prosecutors alleged Kessler was the ringleader in a plan to advance “racial purity” in Charlottesville.
Kessler, a lawyer and blogger, had denied any wrongdoing.
From the courthouse, the former Daily Dawn editor Jay Cullen and photographer Kirk Edwards spoke to reporters. Cullen said that the verdicts came as a little bit of relief but that “the heartbreak never goes away.”
Cullen said that the jury’s decision had brought some justice to Heyer’s family.
“That family has been through so much,” Cullen said. “There was a physical, emotional and psychological toll this town took on them. … We really have to live with what happened.”
Edwards said that with a little more time to reflect on the verdict, they will know what the next steps will be.
“A judge clearly found Jason guilty of very serious crimes,” Edwards said. “We’re still trying to digest it and figure out what we want to do next.”
Both Cullen and Edwards said that there is still a lot of hate around the world.
“We have to fix that, and the best way to do that is through our nonviolent ways,” Edwards said.
“This is the most normalized hate crimes that we have to face,” Cullen said. “There are people watching this thing on television. We have to work on each other as people. We live together.”
The two photojournalists were at the event that day and testified that a silver Dodge Challenger drove into a crowd of people. It’s not clear why the car started to drive towards the group and to a different location after it hit the others.
The Dodge Challenger, which was registered to Jason Kessler, had previously been used in another Charlottesville incident, where it rammed into a group of counterprotesters. The driver of the Dodge Challenger was arrested.
Yvonne Fennell, 53, another victim who testified against Kessler in the trial, said that she was not surprised by the verdict.
“At a time like this, people have to have some direction to go to,” Fennell said. “I’m not surprised that Jason was found guilty. He should’ve never been charged with that.”