A man whose image was captured in a dramatic photo as he was struck by a car during a white nationalist rally in Virginia has given emotional testimony at the trial of the man accused of deliberately plowing into the crowd.
Marcus Martin became tearful several times while testifying Thursday during the murder trial of James Alex Fields Jr., who is charged with killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring dozens of counterprotesters at a "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, 2017.
Martin said he heard a tire screech, then pushed his fiancee out of the way.
"The only thing I could think about was, get my wife out of the way," he said.
That's when he was hit by Fields' car. Martin suffered a broken leg and other injuries.
A photo of Martin and others being tossed into the air by the car won a Pulitzer Prize.
Another woman struck that day was identified only as Lisa Q, because she wants to protect her identity to keep white supremacists from finding her. She was flipped upside down, caught on camera with her feet straight up in the air.
“In the whole confusion of it, it felt like I was being swept into a tornado,” she said. “I had no idea that I was hit by a car at that time.”
Jurors then saw photos of injuries that will mean lasting damage. Her wrist and both of her legs were broken.
Michael Webster testified he first saw the defendant driving slowly with no one around him but seconds later heard a roaring engine as the car sped past him.
"My immediate reaction was, ‘Oh my God. He's going for the crowd,’" Webster testified.
During opening statements Thursday, jurors were given two sharply conflicting descriptions of Fields’ intent.
A prosecutor said Fields was angry and deliberately aimed his car at counterprotesters after the group clashed with white nationalists earlier.
Prosecutor Nina-Alice Antony said 21-year-old Fields had driven all night from his home in Maumee, Ohio, to attend the rally in support of white nationalists. A former teacher of Fields has said he was fascinated by Nazism and admired Adolf Hitler. Three months before the rally, Fields twice posted on Instagram an image of a crowd being struck by a car, Antony said, adding that the people in the crowd were described as “protesters."
Prosecutors also presented a text message exchange between the defendant and his mother when she learned he was going to the rally. She texted, "Be careful." He replied, "We're not the ones who need to be careful."
Fields' defense argued that he was "scared to death" after witnessing violent street brawling between the two sides.
Defense attorney John Hill told jurors they will hear testimony from a police officer who pulled Fields over after the crash. "You'll hear James tell the officer that he feared for his safety, that he was scared to death," he said.
The defense also said Fields told police he saw a man with a gun.
Fields also expressed remorse about the people who were hurt, Hill said.
Jury selection was completed Thursday morning.
A jury of 12 regular jurors and four alternates is hearing the case.