On Friday, Demetria Hester asked a judge not to delay the trial for Jeremy Christian, the man charged with killing two people on a TriMet light rail train in May 2017.
In response, Christian yelled and called her a liar. He grew so unruly that the judge ordered him removed from the courtroom.
Christian, his attorneys and prosecutors were in court Friday to hash out motions related to his trial, now scheduled for late June.
But Christian’s defense has asked to push it back, in part because of a bill in the Legislature that could change the definition of aggravated murder. Christian faces two counts of aggravated murder and could be eligible for the death penalty if state law doesn’t change.
Hester is listed as a named victim in the case against Christian because she says he accosted her on another train a day before the stabbing attack. In court Friday, she asked Judge Cheryl Albrecht not to move the trial.
“We the victims want closure,” Hester said. “For two years, this senseless hate crime that was deliberately —”
Christian interrupted her: “Manufactured,” he said.
Albrecht told him to be quiet or risk being removed. He kept going.
“All right, you guys can do this without me, I really don’t care,” Christian said, his voice rising.
“I’m the victim,” he told Hester. “You’re on video Macing me. Liar. Liar. Liar. You’re not the only black person on the MAX, liar. Manufacturing on hate crimes, you liar.”
Deputies swarmed Christian, put his hands behind his back, handcuffed him and walked him out of the room. He kept talking as they ushered him away.
“You’re on video, you liar,” Christian said to Hester. “Come into court and lie. Uh-uh. You’re a hate crime. Manufacturing hate crimes since 2017, yeah. Keep Portland weird.”
Albrecht said Christian forfeited his right to be present, given his outbursts, and told Hester to continue.
“For two years, this senseless hate crime, that was intentionally committed by a racist white supremacist affects our lives,” Hester said. “Our family’s lives, our friends’ lives. … We want this evil man to pay for the horrible hate crimes.”
Hester criticized Christian’s defense, saying their failed efforts to try to move the trial out of Portland recently and the new attempt to delay it were were “appalling.”
She asked Albrecht which justice system she was going to represent: “The one for us, the victims, or justice system for the racist white supremacist that killed in the name of hate?”
Albrecht thanked Hester for her remarks. The judge said she will hear the defense’s motion to set the case back on May 3.
Friday’s incident was not Christian’s first outburst in court. His defense has raised questions about whether he is mentally fit to stand trial.