Virginia Court denies the appeal of men involved in Unite the Right beating

Jacob Goodwin and Alex Ramos were convicted in the beating of counterprotestor DeAndre Harris

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The Virginia Court of Appeals upheld the Charlottesville Circuit Court ruling convicting Goodwin and Ramos of malicious wounding. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

On Tuesday, the Virginia Court of Appeals denied the appeals of Jacob Goodwin and Alex Ramos over charges related to the beating of DeAndre Harris, who was a counterprotester against the white supremacist Unite the Right rallies of August 2017.

Goodwin and Ramos were both found guilty of malicious wounding, for which Goodwin was sentenced to eight years in prison. Ramos was sentenced for six years.

Goodwin and Ramos were part of a group of men who were captured on video beating Harris with various weapons, including sticks, shields and fists. Harris was left with serious wounds, including a laceration on his head and a broken wrist.

The video shows Goodwin knocking Harris to the ground and then further attacking him. Later in the video, Ramos can be seen running into the ongoing beating and punching Harris.

Goodwin’s attorney argued that errors were made at trial court regarding the seating of jurors. Goodwin’s attorney also argued that the evidence presented was insufficient to charge his client with malicious wounding. 

In her opinion denying the appeal, Chief Judge Marla G. Decker dismissed the argument that the evidence was insufficient, citing the video evidence directly. Decker also referenced various cases supporting her analysis that the jury was properly seated.

“The appellant brutally attacked Harris,” Decker wrote in her opinion. “When the appellant approached Harris during the incident, he kicked him once and struck him with his shield, knocking the victim to the ground.”

Ramos’ appeal was similarly struck down. Judge Glen A. Huff found that the jury in the case was properly seated. Moreover, Huff found that Ramos’ attack on Harris constituted malice.

“[A] single punch to the head is a significant enough attack from which the jury could infer malice when the blow was struck after the victim was already on the ground having been repeatedly struck by a mob of individuals,” Huff wrote.

In a statement released following the ruling of the Court of Appeals, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring affirmed the commitment of his office to ensuring sure those who broke the law at the Unite the Right rally face justice.

“We can never forget the violence, mayhem, injury and death caused by the racists and white supremacists who descended on Charlottesville for Unite the Right, but we can ensure that those who broke the law face justice,” Herring said.

Other individuals involved in the Unite the Right rally have recently faced convictions. James Fields Jr., the driver in the car attack that killed Charlottesville resident Heather Heyer and wounded dozens, pled guilty to federal hate crime charges in March to avoid the death penalty.

Fields was sentenced in July by a Virginia jury to life in prison plus 419 years for his crimes.

Christopher Cantwell, another participant in the rally, was charged in 2017 with two charges of illegal use of tear gas, phosgene or other gases and one charge of malicious bodily injury by means of a caustic substance or agent. As part of his sentencing, Cantwell was banned from entering the state of Virginia for five years. 

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