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Fourth torch-bearer from 2017 march indicted

A fourth man’s indictment has been unsealed in the case of the torch-bearing marchers whose recitation of Nazi slogans including "Blood and Soil" and "Jews will not replace us" provided an unseemly start of the 2017 Unite the Right rally-turned-riot in Charlottesville in 2017.

The 37-year-old William McAffe Williams of Nacona, Texas, was denied bail during a brief hearing before in Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge Claude Worrell on Friday morning.

"Our biggest concern is him coming to court and being a flight risk," said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney W. Lawton Tufts, who opposed bail.

Williams, who goes by Billy, asked the court that he be allowed to return to Texas to resume his job as a truck driver and to return home to his wife and seven children, all of whom are under 10 years of age and one of whom was born after his April 1 arrest.

"The commonwealth waited six years," said defense attorney Ryan Rakness. "If they thought my client was a danger to society they would have acted sooner."

Tufts alleged that Williams and another recent arrestee named Will Zachary Smith served as bodyguards to Robert "Azzmador" Ray, a racist fugitive who talked that weekend in 2017 about a desire to kill Jews in ovens. Tufts alleged that the three men were part of an extremist group called the "Book Club" that met at Williams’ so-called compound.

"That’s a loaded definition," replied Williams’ attorney. "This is a family farm."

Hundreds of people marched across the University of Virginia Lawn on the evening of Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, the night before the planned Unite the Right rally. Rakness said that the prosecutor showed him 48 videos shot that night.

"My client is in maybe six or seven," said Rakness. "In none of them is he swinging a torch; in none of them is he hitting or striking anyone."

Williams, like the three other named men facing similar counts, was charged with Virginia’s statute against using fire for racial intimidation. Sometimes described as the "cross-burning statue" due to its roots in anti-Klan legislation, it makes burning an object to racially intimidate someone a Class 6 six felony. The lowest class of felony, it can put someone in jail for up to five years.

Until his arrest in Texas, said Rakness, Williams had nothing criminal on his record except an approximately 20-year-old hunting charge.

"He’s been working, he’s been having children, and he’s been minding his own business," said Rakness.

The judge seemed inclined to grant bail, but he demanded more evidence of Williams’ employment and residential history. The judge said that he would be willing to set another hearing next week.

Williams has been incarcerated since April 27 at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.


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