Judge delays bail decision in Oregon train attack case
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A judge postponed a decision on whether to allow Jeremy Christian to post bail until after she watches a defense-edited video of what transpired the day police say he stabbed three men on a Portland light-rail train.
Multnomah County Judge Cheryl Albrecht said Wednesday she will watch the footage in private, to spare surviving victim Micah Fletcher and relatives of the two men who were killed from having to see it. Albrecht said she will issue a written decision.
Earlier, an emotional Fletcher left the courtroom and other spectators sobbed as a Portland homicide detective provided a lengthy play-by-play, accompanied by video stills, of what happened after Christian got on the train May 26.
Christian has pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder and other charges. Though prone to courtroom outbursts at previous court appearances, he remained quiet at this one. However, he pulled a yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” sticker from his pocket and waved it toward Fletcher, whose neck remains scarred from the attack.
A relative of Fletcher responded by extending her middle finger at Christian.
Detective Michele Michaels, the sole witness called to the stand, said Christian inflicted 11 stab wounds in 11 seconds after passengers confronted him about anti-Muslim comments directed against two teenage girls.
Christian got on the train about 12 minutes before the attack, initially talking on his cellphone before making statements toward passengers in an agitated manner. Michaels said many witnesses heard xenophobic comments and rants about free speech.
During this time, he also drank sangria and pulled two books from a bag — “The Sagas of Icelanders” and the “Book of Mormon.”
Fletcher got on the train wearing headphones, but Christian’s shouting was louder than the music, Michaels said.
“He felt like Mr. Christian was yelling directly at the two girls,” Michaels said. “Mr. Fletcher remembered that one of the girls had a hijab on. And Mr. Christian was saying they didn’t belong in this country.”
Citing audio and video recordings and witness accounts, Michaels said Fletcher moved toward Christian as the girls moved away to different seats. He joined another man, Shawn Forde, in trying to get Christian to be quiet.
Forde then told Fletcher to let it go, and the college student took the advice. He stopped talking to Christian for about three minutes, the detective said.
During that period, passenger Taliesin Namkai-Meche moved to the back of the train, away from Christian, because he was speaking to his aunt on the phone. He explained the noise to his aunt, and she suggested he record the rant, in case something happened.
Under cross-examination, Michaels acknowledged that a witness heard Meche tell Christian: “You’re going to be an Internet sensation.”
As soon as Meche sat down, Christian grabbed the cellphone and threw it to the ground.
The men stood “chest to chest,” Michaels said, and Christian repeatedly challenged Meche to “Do something!”
Fletcher defended Meche, and Christian shoved both men in the chest. Michaels said Fletcher responded by pulling Christian backward, sending him stumbling into some seats. Fletcher then gave Christian another shove toward the open door of the now-stopped train.
Christian then pulled out a knife, and gave Fletcher a roundhouse stab in the neck, the detective testified. He then stabbed Meche and another man, Ricky Best, who had tried to stop the attack, Michaels added. Best died on the train and Meche died at a hospital.
Christian’s attorney, Greg Scholl, told the judge that the prosecutors did a “credible job” of portraying what took place during 11 seconds of bloodshed, but did not prove that Christian had intent. He disputed that Christian addressed comments toward the girls.
“When you look at the video, you’ll see most of the time it would be difficult for him to even see them,” he said.
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