PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Citing overwhelming press coverage they claim would prevent Jeremy Christian from receiving a fair trial in Multnomah County, defense attorneys official made their case for a change of venue Friday morning.
The trial is currently scheduled to begin in late June. Christian is accused of stabbing 3 men and killing 2 of them on a MAX train in May 2017.
Christian’s attorneys are concerned about the pre-trial publicity and the details about the case they claim would be inadmissible at trial. They said they’ve seen specific video on TV that portrays the victims as heroes, and that, they maintain, affects a jury pool.
In Judge Cheryl Albrecht’s courtroom, defense attorneys also talked about headlines with drastic inaccuracies and said the public has been misinformed through inadmissible and inaccurate information that has been “paraded” throughout the case.
The US Constitution states a person accused of a crime is entitled to a public trial by an impartial jury. Defense attorneys said the prejudicial news before the trial will prevent Christian from getting a fair trial.
“I don’t know how you can look at this case and not think prejudicial news coverage could affect this case,” one of Christian’s attorneys said.
The prosecution takes a completely different view.
They strongly oppose a change of venue on behalf of the victims, who would experience a major hardship to travel to a different county for the trial.
Prosecutors also said news coverage is not determinative of a fair trial and that the Court will be able to determine through jury selection whether an impartial jury can be found.
Judge Albrecht also asked the defense about a possible mental health defense. Christian’s attorneys said those stories are written by people that don’t understand that type of defense.
The attorneys also said the press is free to write whatever story they want but the online comments show how people are affected by those articles and thereby affects their ability to be impartial.
The judge said she should have an order on this issue done by Monday.
Christian’s next pre-trial hearing on different issues is set for April 26.