A Charlottesville jury decided May 1 that a man from Ward, Arkansas, who took part in a brutal beatdown of a local black man in the Market Street Parking Garage on August 12, was guilty of malicious wounding, potentially setting the bar for three other assailants accused of the same crime in the same incident, and who are set to go on trial in the very near future.
In videos from the Unite the Right rally that have since been viewed tens of thousands of times, Jacob Goodwin can be seen wearing all black tactical gear, a helmet, goggles, and two pins—one that said “88,” or code for “Heil Hitler,” and one with the logo of the Traditionalist Worker Party—and carrying a shield when kicking DeAndre Harris multiple times among a gaggle of other white supremacists.
Jurors were visibly disturbed while watching.
“He has yet to express any regret for his actions that day,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Platania, when asking the jury to consider a jail sentence recommendation. “And I would submit he has none.”
The man identified as a self-described white rights activist in an NBC documentary sat in court wearing a suit and tie and with a long, brown braided ponytail. During his testimony, he said he thought he was being attacked by Harris, and he was using his feet to defend himself.
“To be honest, I was terrified,” he said, adding that he thought he’d be sent to the hospital “terribly hurt,” or that he might even “perish.”
The jury of nine women and three men didn’t buy it, and they recommended giving Goodwin a 10-year sentence with perhaps some time suspended, a $25,000 fine and empathy training. Judge Rick Moore set an official sentencing for August 23.
Goodwin’s mother had her head in her hands when defense attorney Elmer Woodard wrapped up his closing argument, in which he insisted that Goodwin was legally allowed to defend himself from a perceived threat, which protects the Arkansas man from being convicted of malicious wounding. For that specific charge, a prosecutor must show an attempt to kill, maim or disable, or evidence of ill will or spite, according to the attorneys.
“They want you to convict this man because he’s a white man and DeAndre’s a black man,” Woodard said to the jury. The white man’s parents and a handful of other supporters, including Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler, were present for the two-day trial.
So were community members who have aggressively praised Harris for his fight against white supremacy that day in August, and who demanded that Platania drop a malicious wounding charge that Harris was initially given from the event, when he allegedly bashed a man in the head with a Maglite moments before he was beaten to the ground.
Harris’ charge was amended to assault and he was acquitted in Charlottesville General District Court in March.
Woodard argued that while his client was wearing armor, the Maglite and towel Harris carried were the real weapons, and that the man beaten by white supremacists was the true aggressor.
“Body armor’s a defensive thing,” said Woodard. “Nobody ever got beaten to death with body armor.”
And while the defense attorney argued several times that Harris’ most significant injuries, such as the head laceration that required eight stitches, were a result of the other men involved and not Goodwin, Nina-Alice Antony, an assistant commonwealth’s attorney, said they were acting in concert.
“Each person is responsible, not just for his specific action, but the action of the group,” she said, adding that concert of action can happen in an instant, even between people who are unknown to each other. “You don’t have to have a handshake agreement before that.”
The three other men charged with malicious wounding in the parking garage beatdown are Alex Ramos, Daniel Borden and Tyler Watkins Davis. Ramos goes on trial today.
This Blairs, Virginia, attorney was largely unknown in the Charlottesville area until he began representing a bevy of white supremacists with Unite the Right-related charges, including Jacob Goodwin, “Crying Nazi” Chris Cantwell and Richard Preston, the KKK leader charged with firing his gun on August 12. Now he’s one of the most talked about defenders in town. Here’s what he had to say at Goodwin’s May 1 trial:
”Gravity applies to DeAndre just like it applies to you and me.”
—on why Harris didn’t fall back down, but rather stood up after the prosecutor argued that Goodwin kicked him so hard that he lifted off the ground
“Why DeAndre, you have upset me.”
—on what Goodwin would have said if he truly felt anger, and was acting out of malice
“Is it concert of action to stand in the Hardee’s line together?”
—on how people who don’t know each other can act together and share similar views
”If it’s raining, you put on a raincoat. If there’s fighting, you put on a helmet.”
—on why Goodwin was wearing tactical gear and a helmet