Fatal Portland light-rail stabbings case goes to jury

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The case of a man charged in the fatal stabbing of two men who authorities say confronted him during a racist rant on a Portland light-rail train has gone to the jury for deliberation.

Prosecutors said in closing arguments that Jeremy Christian is an angry, violent, bigoted person who had a plan to stab anyone who challenged him, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

The day before the attack, Christian had said: “’I’m about to stab some (expletives),” prosecutor Jeff Howes told jurors. ”… A racist white supremacist, large former prisoner who got into many, many fights in prison says that statement undaunted, out of nowhere.”

Defense attorney Greg Scholl said the events on May 26, 2017, might have turned out much differently had Micah Fletcher. who tried to get Christian to leave the train, had not approached Christian so aggressively.

“We live in a world where confronting a loud and annoying and obnoxious person in the wrong way can lead to catastrophic results. And that is what happened in this case,” Scholl said.

Christian is charged with the first-degree murders of Taliesin Namkai-Meche, 23, and Ricky Best, 53, and the first-degree attempted murder of Fletcher, then 21.

According to court documents, Christian boarded the train and began shouting racist, anti-Muslim and xenophobic slurs at the two young women, one of whom was Muslim.

As his outburst continued, Christian grabbed Namkai-Meche’s phone and threw it to the ground. Authorities said Fletcher stood up to intervene and got into a shoving match with Christian, who was taunting the men to “do something” to stop him.

Christian then took out a folding knife and stabbed Fletcher and Namkai-Meche, prosecutors said. Authorities say he also stabbed Best who had tried to intervene. Namkai-Meche and Best died at the scene of stab wounds to the neck. Fletcher was seriously injured.

Christian is also charged with assault and menacing for shouting slurs and throwing a bottle at a black woman on another light-rail train the day before the stabbings.

Multnomah County Circuit Judge Cheryl Albrecht sent the case to jurors to begin deliberations shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday. Jurors returned Thursday morning.

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