Judge tosses 2 charges against white nationalist who used pepper-spray in Charlottesville

Christopher Cantwell, Image courtesy of CNN

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – A Virginia judge has dismissed two of the three felony counts against a prominent white nationalist charged after a torch-lit rally at the University of Virginia.

Christopher Cantwell of Keene, New Hampshire, is accused of pepper-spraying a counterprotester during an Aug. 11 Charlottesville protest, a day before the much larger white nationalist rally. Cantwell says he acted in self-defense.

Local media outlets report that an Albemarle County judge on Thursday dismissed one count of malicious bodily injury with a “caustic substance,” explosive or fire, concluding there was a lack of evidence that the counterprotester had been injured.

But the judge declined to dismiss a count of the illegal use of gases. A prosecutor said Cantwell had no reasonable claim for self-defense. The judge said there is enough of a question as to whether it was self-defense.

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