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Portland man accused of killing 2 during hate-filled rant guilty of 1st-degree murder

Jeremy Christian shouted hate speech that included anti-Muslim comments on a Portland light-trail train in 2017 before the stabbings.
image: Jeremy Christian
Jeremy Christian, 37, attends jury selection for his trial in Portland, Oregon, on Jan. 27.John Rudoff / AFP - Getty Images file

The man accused of fatally stabbing two people and injuring a third during a hate-filled rant aboard a Portland, Oregon, train in 2017 was found guilty Friday on all 12 charges, including two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of second-degree intimidation.

Jurors also found Jeremy Christian, 37, guilty of assault, unlawful use of a weapon and menacing passengers. He will be sentenced during a separate hearing.

Authorities said Christian shouted hate speech that included anti-Muslim comments on a light-rail train. Some of the rants were directed at two teenage girls, one of whom was wearing a head scarf. In Oregon, second-degree intimidation includes hate speech.

During his tirade, Christian also spoke of beheadings and shouted "Go home, we need America here!," the Oregonian reported.

The girls moved to the back of the train to get away from Christian, and three people tried to intervene. Two of them, Rick Best, 53, an Army veteran and father of four, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, were stabbed and killed. A third victim, Micah Fletcher, who was 21 at the time, narrowly escaped death.

Authorities said in court documents that Fletcher’s stab wound missed being a fatal injury by mere millimeters.

During a court appearances in 2017, Christian repeatedly yelled that he was not guilty and had only been defending himself against "violent aggression" by Fletcher. In a separate hearing, he also shouted "free speech or die" and "death to the enemies of America."

Speaking in court earlier this week, Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Jeff Howes said Christian's self-defense claim made no sense.

"A reasonable person wouldn’t have killed two people instantly," Howes said, according to KGW, an NBC affiliate in Portland, Oregon. "There's no rationalization to lead someone to believe [what Christian did] is an appropriate response."

Christian's family said in a 2017 statement that they could not "begin to understand this senseless act" and denounced racism.

"The Christian Family offer their heartfelt condolences to those men who lost their lives at the hands of their son on May 26, 2017," the statement said.