Key witness Micah Fletcher testifies in murder trial over Portland MAX train stabbing
Micah Fletcher, the man who survived a stabbing to his neck during the MAX killings of 2017, took the stand Tuesday, Feb. 4, in at-times emotional testimony in which defense attorneys asked him to detail why he confronted Jeremy Christian on the Green Line on May 26, 2017 — shortly before the stabbings that left Ricky Best and Taliesin Namkai-Meche dead, and Fletcher gravely injured.
Fletcher's testimony was considered a key point in the trial, as Christian's defense lawyers have portrayed the now-24-year-old as instigating the altercation and have contended Christian stabbed the others in self-defense.
Fletcher testified that he heard Christian loudly criticizing Muslims, Jews and Christians that afternoon, and felt — like others on the train — that Christian was targeting two black teenagers on the train, one wearing a hijab, who were sitting together.
Fletcher testified that he left his seat and went down to the central part of the train to interject himself between the girls and to distract Christian from them — something that Shawn Forde, a large ex-Marine, had already done by moving forward to obstruct Christian's view of the girls, and conversing with Christian.
"For whatever reason (Forde) did not seem to want to engage in the situation apart from attempting whatever conversation he was attempting with Mr. Christian," Fletcher said, describing Forde as "polite" in dealing with Christian.
Fletcher yelled at Christian to not treat the girls that way, but then turned his back on Christian after Forde told the young music student that Christian was "just talking," Fletcher testified.
Then Fletcher heard the loud noise made when Christian swatted a cell phone out of the hand of Taliesin Namkai-Meche.
That had occurred, an earlier witness said, after Namkai-Meche had sat down next to Christian, pointed his cell phone at him and said words to the effect that Christian was about to become "an internet sensation."
Namkai-Meche's aunt, who'd spoken with him shortly before that and heard Christian yelling in the background, testified that she had urged him to record what she said sounded like a hate crime.
Hearing the noise, Fletcher assumed Christian had struck Namkai-Meche, and said he felt Christian was about to assault Namkai-Meche further. He described Namkai-Meche as "spindly" and clearly unprepared for what was about to happen, holding some Tupperware in one hand.
Fletcher said he had a history of being in fights, having been picked on roughly twice a week as a kid due to his autism. So he tried to interject himself in Namkai-Meche's place.
At that point, Christian shoved Fletcher and Namkai-Meche away, while yelling "do something (expletive)," Fletcher testified.
He grabbed Christian and threw him down, then tried to push him down.
"It was my intention to put him in a situation where he decided the best course of action was to leave," Fletcher said.
Instead, Christian stabbed Fletcher in the neck. Fletcher crouched down, then walked outside the stopped MAX train as quickly as he could, believing he was about to die.
Christian's lawyer, Dean Smith, questioned Fletcher, noting that Fletcher had dressed like a clown for a counter-protest three weeks before the TriMet stabbings. Asking if he was part of the "clown bloc" that used horns to drown out right-wingers' speech.
Fletcher testified that he saw Christian there, and recognized him on the train. But Fletcher denied that the clown bloc tried to interfere with anyone's speech.
"I would describe it as people honking horns at a rally," he said. "… What their intention is, is moot."
Smith also asked him about a more recent rally in which Fletcher said he was part of a "black bloc" group that showed up to go against a right-wing protest in Vancouver, Washington. Fletcher was arrested for throwing smoke bombs into the right-wing protesters, and went through a diversion program to get charges dismissed.
Asked by prosecutor Jeff Howes what he was thinking when he decided to intervene in Christian's confrontation with Namkai-Meche, Fletcher said he was wrong to think he could save him from harm.
"He died. I got hurt. I was wrong," he said "I didn't save him. I really wanted to. I couldn't."
Howes later asked him if he would have made the same decision in hindsight.
"I really do feel I did the best I could," Fletcher said.
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