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Oregon man gets life without parole for killing 2 on Portland train after hate-filled tirade

Jeremy Christian was convicted this winter in the 2017 stabbing deaths that followed a hate-filled rant aboard a train.
Image: Jeremy Christian
Jeremy Christian reacts before being removed by deputies during his sentencing hearing in Portland, Ore. on June 23, 2020.Dave Killen / The Oregonian/Pool via AP

An Oregon man convicted of fatally stabbing two people and injuring a third after a hate-filled rant on a Portland light-rail train in 2017 has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Jeremy Joseph Christian, 38, was found guilty by a jury in February of two counts of murder and other counts in the May 26, 2017, stabbing.

Taliesin Namkai-Meche, 23, and Ricky Best, 53, were killed on the train after a racist and hate-filled tirade. Some of Christian's rants were directed at two teenage girls, one of whom was wearing a head scarf.

Micah Fletcher, who was 21 at the time of the attack, was injured but survived. He has been plagued by nightmares since and started drinking heavily, he said from the stand Wednesday.

"There is not a room in this world that I can enter without at least scanning it first to decide who the person is that is most likely to hurt me, how close by they are," Fletcher said.

He addressed Christian during his statement.

"Though I hope you sit in a cell for the rest of your life so that you are never able to hurt another person — the way you hurt those families — again, I do hope that you find a way to become better than what you are today," he said.

Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Cheryl A. Albrecht on Wednesday sentenced Christian to two consecutive life terms without the possibility of release or parole, as well as 310 months, or a little less than 26 years, to be served on top of those sentences.

"The resulting convictions do little to ease the pain," Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill said in a statement. "But, they do show those who foster hate what our community can and will do to combat such evil as we move forward — together."

Christian has shown no remorse and "believes his crimes are justified based on his concepts of 'free speech,'" prosecutors said in a sentencing recommendation.

A psychiatrist who examined him testified that Christian suffers from Anti-Social Personality Disorder, prosecutors wrote. They added he has shown concern only for himself.

Christian watched testimony on a monitor in another room of the courthouse, NBC affiliate KGW of Portland reported.

"I do regret that two people died, but I do not regret my actions that led to their death. Nor was it my explicit intent to murder anyone," he said, according to the station.

As Christian hurled abuse at people the day of the attack, Namkai-Meche apparently sought to record him on a cellphone. Christian grabbed the phone, threw it to the floor and within seconds, pulled out a knife and stabbed Namkai-Meche, Best and Fletcher, prosecutors said.

Christian said that he felt confronted. He said Best was standing nearby and had not done anything but "I just assessed he was a threat," The Oregonian reported.

Christian was convicted of two counts of murder in the first degree; one count of attempted murder in the first degree; one count of assault in the first degree; one count of assault in the second degree; three counts of intimidation in the second degree; two counts of unlawful use of a weapon; and two counts of menacing.

His family said in a 2017 statement that they could not "begin to understand this senseless act" and denounced racism. They also offered heartfelt condolences to the victims.