Last week an attorney defending an alt-right client subpoenaed a reporter as a witness. This week the same lawyer called a city councilor to court to support his motion that Daniel Borden, charged with malicious wounding, cannot get a fair trial in Charlottesville
Mike Hallahan represents Borden, an Ohio man who was 18 years old and known for his high school swastika drawings and Nazi salutes when he came to Charlottesville for the Unite the Right rally, according to Cincinnati’s local NBC affiliate WLWT and the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Borden is one of four men charged in the Market Street Parking Garage beatdown of DeAndre Harris, who also was charged with malicious wounding, and who was acquitted in Charlottesville General District Court March 16.
In Charlottesville Circuit Court March 29, Hallahan said the city has shown an “absolute sheer bias” against rally participants by pursuing charges against them but not prosecuting people for jaywalking or blocking Fourth Street at the time of the car attack in which a white supremacist rammed his car into a crowd of people, killing local woman Heather Heyer and injuring many others.
Hallahan, who subpoenaed this reporter in a different case, called City Councilor Wes Bellamy, who was vice-mayor in August, to the witness stand to testify about the community’s perception of rally goers.
Bellamy said Charlottesville residents have routinely called Unite the Right participants “white supremacists” and “Nazis,” but when asked if all locals feel that way, the councilman replied that he can’t speak for more than 40,000 people.
As Bellamy hobbled away from the witness box on crutches from a basketball injury, he stopped to whisper something in Borden’s ear and patted him on his right pectoral. Borden nodded his head.
The defense attorney had planned to call former councilor Kristin Szakos to the stand, but reported that she’s out of the country. He entered into evidence a Facebook post she wrote several months ago, when she said it’s interesting that “Nazis” want to move their trials out of the city where they committed their alleged crimes.
“We are not their people,” she wrote.
Hallahan also said the local media coverage of Unite the Right has been biased and not a single positive article has been written about it.
“These are not opinion pieces,” said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Nina-Alice Antony. “They are fact-based.”
She argued that the judge should not grant Borden’s motion to move his trial, but take it under advisement until the prosecutor and defense attempt to seat an impartial jury in June. Average jury pools include about 40-60 individuals, but 150 are being summoned for this one, she said.
Just as the attorney for Jacob Goodwin, another accused Harris assailant, did yesterday, Hallahan alluded to “sleeper activists” who would intentionally try to sit on the jury to convict Borden. The defendant’s dad shook his head vigorously.
Borden has been in jail since August, and Hallahan also asked for a bond hearing, which Judge Rick Moore denied because it was not on the docket. A separate date will be set for that, but Borden’s father, a retired commanding officer and combat pilot in the U.S. Air Force, testified that he’s willing to take his son home to Ohio until the trial.
A woman later identified as Borden’s father’s lifelong companion could be heard whispering that Harris didn’t spend a night in jail because he’s black.
Moore took the change of venue motion under advisement until after the court has attempted to seat an unbiased jury.