A Eugene man on Monday pleaded guilty except for insanity to first-degree bias crime and other charges following a 2019 assault on a 70-year-old Redmond motel owner.
In addition to the hate crime, 53-year-old James David Lamb Jr. pleaded guilty except for insanity to second-degree assault and first-degree burglary for an attack at the Hub Motel that injured Meena Puri.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said the court found that Lamb had a qualifying mental disorder at the time of the attack.
Lamb was sentenced to 20 years at the state mental hospital under the care of the Psychiatric Security Review Board.
A grand jury indicted Lamb in January 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.
Puri, an immigrant from India, was hospitalized 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.