Judge: Jeremy Christian jurors can tour MAX train

Crime

Trial scheduled to begin January 28, 2020

PORTLAND, Ore. (Portland Tribune) — Jurors in the upcoming MAX attack trial will be able to tour an identical train car once it begins later this month.

Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Albrecht approved the request from prosecutors during a short hearing on Monday, Jan. 6.

Jeremy Christian is accused of killing two men and hurting another after yelling anti-Muslim slurs at a woman with a hijab on a MAX train in May 2017. Christian is charged with two counts of aggravated murder and one count of attempted aggravated murder stemming from the stabbing on May 26, 2017, that left Taliesin Namkai-Meche and Ricky Best dead and a third train passenger, Micah Fletcher, badly wounded.

Christian was present with his attorneys during the hearing in Albrecht’s courtroom, which last around 10 minutes. His wrists were manacled with handcuffs connected to a chain around his waist.

Unlike some earlier court appearances, Christian did not say anything audible in the courtroom during the proceeding. During an April 2019 hearing, Christian had to be restrained by deputies when he shouted and pushed back from the defense table.

Judge Cheryl Albrecht in her Multnomah County courtroom, November 1, 2019 (KOIN)

Albrecht ruled jurors could not tour the identical car where the attack occured as prosecutors originally requested, however. And she is still considering a request from Christian’s attorney that he be allowed to be present during the tour.

Albrecht is also still researching a request from prosecutors to introduce cell phone video of Christian apparently ranting on a different MAX train the day before the attack.

The lawyers argued the two motions before Albrecht on Dec. 30, 2019.

A jury orientation is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 10. Albrecht said Christian can attended it. The trial is scheduled to begin on Jan. 28.

The Portland Tribune is a KOIN 6 News media partner

Legal changes

Christian previously appeared in court on Nov. 1, 2019, as charges against him were amended to first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder.

Earlier that week, prosecutors filed a motion to take the death penalty off the table for Christian. He was initially charged with two counts of aggravated murder and one count of attempted aggravated murder in the attack. The 2019 Oregon Legislature changed the definition and requirements to qualify for the death penalty. Someone now has to kill two or more people as an act of organized terrorism to be convicted.

KOIN 6 News spoke with Namkai-Meche’s mother, Asha Deliverance, last year on the second anniversary of the attack. She said then that “there needs to be a voice for love.”

Deliverance said she doesn’t believe in the death penalty and would instead like to see the courts take a restorative justice approach to Christian’s sentencing.

“When somebody has an illness and they are so distorted in their thinking, that is an illness. For me, it is how to bring healing, not punishment,” she said. “If Jeremy Christian as a young child had been offered all of these options, we would not have had this problem,” she said.

Deliverance said her daughters have different opinions.

“I feel sadness for Jeremy Christian and I feel compassion. They probably feel more anxiety,” she said. “He was a big part of their life. They have different sentiments. I don’t know that any of us believe in corporal punishment but I believe that they do believe in punishment.”

max attack victims ricky best micah fletcher   Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche
Ricky Best, Taliesin Namkai-Meche, Micah Fletcher, 2017 (KOIN file)

Case background

The city of Portland has said they want Jeremy Christian to pay — literally — if the city is found liable for the fatal stabbings.

In court documents filed in August 2019, the city argued Christian is solely to blame for the attack and should be held financially responsible in a lawsuit filed by the estate of one of the victims.

Jeremy Christian’s trial was delayed until early 2020 after the judge in the case granted the motion from his defense attorneys back in May.

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune and contributed to this story.

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