Jury In Charlottesville Beating Trial Finds White Supremacist Guilty Of Attack On DeAndre Harris
During last year's deadly "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, a group of white supremacists beat up a black man named DeAndre Harris in a parking garage. At the end of the Charlottesville beating trial, white supremacist Jacob Scott Goodwin was found guilty of malicious wounding. The jury, which was composed of nine women and three men, recommended a 10-year prison sentence as well as a $22,000 fine.
On Aug. 12, Goodwin and a group of other white supremacists reportedly beat Harris so brutally that he suffered severe head lacerations, a broken arm, and a spinal injury. According to The Washington Post, Goodwin was wearing a military tactical helmet and had a large shield at the time of the attack.
Goodwin was arrested roughly two months after the rally, after writer Shaun King and other Black Lives Matter activists tracked him down using video footage of the attack. During his trial on Tuesday, Goodwin argued that he had been acting in self-defense, and that he thought he would "probably perish" after alleging that Harris was charging toward him.
But even Goodwin's lawyer conceded that his client had kicked Harris multiple times when he was lying on the ground, which Goodwin argued was his attempt to "neutralize a threat." Nonetheless, the jury viewed video footage of the attack and decided that Goodwin was not acting in self-defense but out of malice.
Goodwin's sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 23. During his hearing, his lawyer, Elmer Woodard, suggested that it was Harris who went after Goodwin. "[Goodwin] came to exercise free speech," Woodward said. "Mr. Harris went to abuse free speech — not to exercise it, but abuse it."
However, Nina-Alice Antony, an assistant commonwealth’s attorney, pointed out that Goodwin had been "outfitted for battle," and asked the jury whether it was "reasonable" for Goodwin to be afraid given that. Much of the focus at Goodwin's trial was whether or not Harris had started the fight.
In March, Harris was found not guilty of assaulting another white nationalist who participated in the Charlottesville rally. Harris, who used to be a special education instructional assistant, was charged two months after the rally assault and battery against Harold Crews, the state chairman of a white nationalist group called League of the South.
Before Harris was beaten in the parking garage, video footage shows him standing next to Corey Long, another black protester who was tugging on the end of a flagpole that Crews was holding. The video then shows Harris swinging a flashlight at Crews, but Harris testified during his March trial that he only did this because he thought Crews was "driving his flag into Corey." The judge ultimately declared that Harris was not guilty because he was trying to defend his friend.
That the jury in Goodwin's case was composed of a female majority is also noteworthy. According to an article that appeared in the University of Puerto Rico Law Review in 2016, "male jurors are more accepting of aggression than their female counterparts." This is a striking statement, especially given the fact that women could not serve on juries in all 50 states until 1973.
However, while this statement may appear pertinent in Goodwin's case, there are notable exceptions. In 2013, an all-female jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin, on the basis of self-defense. There is no formula for predicting how an all- or majority-female jury is going to vote.
Nonetheless, the jury's decision to find Goodwin guilty is still significant, especially after Woodward attempted to accuse the jury of trying to convict Goodwin "because he’s white." Another one of the suspects in the Charlottesville beating has a trial scheduled to start on Wednesday, while two more will face trials this summer.