Jeremy Christian sentenced to consecutive life sentences
A judge on Wednesday, June 24, sentenced TriMet murderer Jeremy Christian to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Multnomah Circuit Judge Cheryl Albrecht cited the moving testimony of victims and said Christian's lack of remorse, the gravity of his crimes in May 2017, and the likelihood that he can't be rehabilitated all weighed in favor of two life sentences imposed consecutively — with sentences for other counts layered on top of that.
"This case does culminate at a remarkable time," Albrecht said, calling it "a time of reckoning" for a collective racist and discriminatory past. "It is my hope that all of us can be inspired by the courage of these victims," she added.
The murders by Christian of Taliesin Namkai-Meche and Ricky Best, along with the stabbing of Micah Fletcher, after they stood up to defend two teenage girls, one wearing a hijab, made national news.
At his trial, Christian's lawyers had denied racist intent, contended he was mentally impaired and argued that he acted in self-defense. Shortly before sentencing, Christian echoed those claims in a statement in which he called the murders a "tragedy" but blamed others.
Albrecht rejected those claims in her sentencing, and said she hoped Christian would someday take responsibility for his crimes.
Starting Tuesday morning, June 23, a string of victims testified about Christian's crimes: family members of Best and Namkai-Meche, as well as Fletcher and other witnesses of the incident, including the two girls who Fletcher, Best and Namkai-Meche had stepped up to defend, Walia Mohamed and Destinee Mangum. Many described trauma and lasting harm.
Demetria Hester, who Christian had harassed and assaulted the day before the murders, spoke of racism and the need for police reform and mass resignations by people involved with the case. She faulted police who "let him walk away" rather than arrest Christian for injuring her eye with a hurled Gatorade bottle. Christian interrupted her testimony, and said he "should have killed you, b****" before being ejected from the courtroom. He was later allowed to participate remotely by video.
During his testimony, Fletcher said he'd spent nine months in an alcoholic daze and continues to be traumatized. "I hope you sit in a cell the rest of your life," he said to Christian. "I do hope that you find a way to become better than what you are today."
Shawn Forde, the African-American ex-Marine who'd sought to shield the girls from Christian and defuse the situation, also spoke of white supremacy, structural racism and the need for all to rise up against it.
"As I've shared with one of the prosecutors, I felt more comfortable in combat than I do simply living and maneuvering in peacetime through society in this country," Forde said.
The sentencing of Christian had been delayed due to the coronavirus. In February, the jury unanimously found him guilty of two counts of first degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, second-degree intimidation, menacing and unlawful use of a victim.
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