A Eugene man arrested on New Year’s Eve for assaulting a 70-year-old woman who owned the Redmond hotel he was staying in has now been charged with attempted murder and hate crimes.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel made the announcement Tuesday morning after a grand jury indicted 53-year-old James Lamb on numerous charges including one count of second-degree attempted murder, two counts of first-degree bias crime, and one count of second-degree assault.
Lamb was a guest at the Hub Motel when he broke into the manager’s office and attacked the woman, Hummel said.
Meena Puri, an immigrant from India, remains in the hospital with injuries to her throat, a broken shoulder and black eye after the attack, her husband Satish Puri told The Associated Press.
“Our life has changed forever,”″ he said. “We’re not going to be in the motel business running it ourselves now, and she’s not going to be coming back to this place ever, because she’s so scared now.”
Hummel said the grand jury charged Lamb with bias crimes based on statements he made about the victim being from India and his expressed desire to rid America of people like her.
“The victim of this unprovoked assault provided heroic testimony to the grand jury from her hospital bed,” Hummel said in a statement. “Too many people in Oregon are silenced by intimidation and violence because of how they look, who they love, or to whom they pray. Because of this woman’s strength, and because the Oregon Legislature passed a law last year to strengthen Oregon’s hate crime law, justice will be delivered in this case. Hate is not tolerated in Deschutes County.”
Satish Puri said Lamb, who was staying at the Hub Motel, had come to the night window at the office to ask to use the telephone for a long-distance call.
Meena Puri told him he should come back at 8 a.m. when the office opened, at which point Lamb grabbed her hair through the night window and used a large ashtray to smash down the office door, enter the office and attack her, Satish Puri said.
“He’s a big guy; she’s a puny, little 70-year-old,” Puri said.
Oregon’s revised hate crime law allows a felony hate crime to be charged when a defendant acts alone to harm another because of that person’s race, color, religion, sexual orientation, disability or national origin.
Previously, felony charges were only authorized if two or more people harmed another based on these motivations, Hummel said.
Lamb is expected in court again on Friday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.