PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Jeremy Christian, who killed 2 people and critically injured another on a MAX train, will spend the rest of his life in prison.
The 38-year-old was sentenced to 2 consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole for the murders of Taliesin Namkai-Meche and Ricky Best. He watched the proceedings from a holding area after being tossed out of court on Tuesday.
“I’m hoping you’re able to accept responsibility one day,” Judge Albrecht said before she handed down the sentence.
Albrecht, who announced the sentencing after hearing several victim impact statements, said her decision was based on Christian not showing a willingness to be rehabilitated nor had he displayed remorse for the killings.
The judge handed down the sentences — which also includes 20 years for the attempted murder of Micah Fletcher — following the emotional impact statements from the victims of the attack on the Green Line train May 26, 2017.
Micah Fletcher’s statement
Wearing a face mask and speaking without notes. Micah Fletcher spent 17 minutes talking about how that day changed his life forever.
“There is not a room in this world that I can enter without at least scanning it first to decide who the person is who is most likely to hurt me,” Fletcher said. “I basically spend the first 30 seconds of every event and area that I enter trying to figure out how easily I can die.”
As he wrapped up his statement, Fletcher addressed Christian personally.
“I don’t take it personal. I don’t. As far as you and me, we’re good,” Fletcher said.
“If what you brought into the court is true then that means that you and I both as alcoholics, both as people that are mentally ill, the difference being that I was given an abundance of resources, and you either weren’t or those resources failed to be of any service.”
Fletcher was the last of the witnesses to provide an impact statement.
Jeremy Christian’s allocution
When Christian began his 15-minute allocution, he was chained and in a wheelchair for transport. He stood up and moved toward the camera so his words could be better heard.
He continued to blame Fletcher and his alleged involvement with Antifa for what happened. He maintains he was acting in self-defense and does not accept any guilt.
“I did not commit an act of violence against anyone on that train,” Christian said
After talking about political nihilism and free speech, Christian returned to Fletcher.
“I hold no ill will. You chose violence. I chose violence. People died. You survived. I understand your feelings of guilt. You should apologize to the families for being the main contributor of their death,” he said.
“Feel free to write me in prison.”
Christian got to speak one more time and apologized to the family of Ricky Best.
“My intention was not to murder or kill your family member. I’m glad that you can forgive me for the tragedy that happened on the MAX that day.”
Prosecution and defense
Prosecutors asked for 2 true-life sentences with no possibility of parole for the aggravated murders of Ricky Best and Taliesin Namkai-Meche. They also sought 260 months for the attempted murder of Micah Fletcher and want all of this served consecutively, not concurrently.
Prosecutor Don Rees said the DA’s office is seeking the maximum penalty because victims of hate crimes suffer more than victims of other crimes of violence.
“A hate crime tells a person that they’re not welcome and safe in their own community,” Rees said.
Defense attorney Greg Scholl argued that if Christian got a normal life sentence, he won’t be eligible for parole until age 70.
“Who is in a place to decide how dangerous Mr. Christian might be at that time?”
Scholl said it should be left to a parole board to decide.
Judge Cheryl Albrecht, who spent years overseeing this case, first spoke about the courage of the victims and witnesses who testified during the trial and at the sentencing.
Jeremy Christian pleaded not guilty on 12 charges: two counts of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree attempted murder, one count of first-degree assault, one count of second-degree assault, three counts of second-degree intimidation, two counts of unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of menacing. A jury unanimously found him guilty on all 12 charges.
She said she struggled with the notion of consecutive life sentences, but in the end decided to make Count 2 (the murder of Ricky Best) consecutive to Count 1 (the murder of Taliesin Namkai-Meche).
In plain language, once Jeremy Christian has completed his first life sentence, he would begin serving time for the second.
As the Multnomah County DA’s Office explained, Christian received 2 consecutive true life prison sentences – with no possibility of release – plus approximately 51.5 years of additional prison time encompassing all the charges for which he was convicted.
‘Inspired by courage, compassion, strength’
In a statement, Multnomah County DA Rod Underhill said:
“From the beginning of this case, we have seen and heard the racism and hatred cast by Jeremy Christian. His appalling actions and beliefs will never have a place in our community. Today, we focus on and remember the heroic efforts of the individuals who courageously came forward and immediately – in the face of great danger to themselves – started performing first aid and gave solace to Taliesin Namkai-Meche, Ricky Best and Micah Fletcher. We honor the first responders – the police officers, firefighters and paramedics – who found themselves in a chaotic and traumatizing-blood-soaked scene. Although we still deeply hurt, we are stronger in our resolve to stand up to and reject hate. We do so inspired by the courage, compassion and strength of Taliesin Namkai-Meche, Ricky Best, Micah Fletcher, Walio Mohamed, Destinee Mangum, Demetria Hester, Shawn Forde and so many others, including the families of Taliesin and Ricky. Every witness who testified selflessly gave their time and energy to see this through. The resulting convictions do little to ease the pain. But, they do show those who foster hate what our community can and will do to combat such evil as we move forward – together.”