Judge: Death threats prevent Christian from MAX train tour
Because of death threats he has received, accused murderer Jeremy Christian will not be allowed to accompany jurors when they tour a MAX car identical to the one in which he allegedly attacked three men, killing two of them and seriously injuring the third, in May 2017.
Multnomah County Circuit Judge Cheryl Albrecht issued the ruling on Thursday, Jan. 9, a little more than two weeks before Christian's trial is scheduled to start. She had previously approved the jury tour requested by Multnomah County prosecutors. The tour will be of an identical car; not of the actual car in which the incident took place on May 26.
Christian's public defenders had argued that he has the right to be present at all stages of the trial, including the tour that will take place on TriMet property. In her ruling, Albrecht said she could not find any case supporting such a right.
"The court finds defendant does not have a fundamental right to be present as long as the nature of the view is a 'bare inspection, where counsel are permitted, and when there are no statements or evidence other than pointing out essential features,'" Albrecht wrote.
She also revealed that Christian has received death threats while in jail, and that allowing him to be present during the tour would put at risk his life and that of those around him.
"Additionally, the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, who has custody of the defendant, has reported information received over the course of his more than 30 months' incarceration indicates there are numerous threats to harm or kill the defendant," Albrecht wrote.
Jury selection is scheduled to start on Tuesday, Jan. 21, and the trial is expected to begin on Tuesday, Jan. 28. It is expected to last four or more weeks.
Christian is accused of killing two men and hurting another after yelling anti-Muslim slurs at a girl with a hijab on a MAX train. Christian is charged with two counts of aggravated murder and one count of attempted aggravated murder stemming from the stabbing that left Taliesin Namkai-Meche and Ricky Best dead and a third train passenger, Micah Fletcher, badly wounded.
Prosecutors say that Christian attacked the three men when they intervened to protect the girl. Among other things, they are planning to present video of the incident taken by a TriMet security camera in the train.
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