UPDATE (1:50 p.m.) – Jeremy Christian, the man who stabbed and killed two men and injured a third on a TriMet MAX train in 2017, was sentenced Wednesday to two life sentences in prison without the possibility of parole.
“I believe that you are a creative, thoughtful person, intelligent, that you desire to learn and grow,” Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Albrecht said to Christian before her sentencing decision.
“I hope one day you are able to accept responsibility for the grievous loss that you caused.”
Christian will serve two consecutive life sentences for the murders of Taliesin Namkai-Meche and Ricky Best, as well as approximately 26 additional years in prison for other crimes including attempted murder, intimidation and assault.
Christian was originally scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday, but a full day of victim impact statements and technical difficulties delayed proceedings into Wednesday morning.
More than 10 people gave statements Tuesday about how Christian impacted their lives, or their families' lives, including Demetria Hester, a Black woman Christian assaulted the night prior to the MAX attack.
Hester reflected on the assault, in which she maced Christian and he threw a half-full Gatorade bottle at her eye after going on a racist rant.
She also spoke on the broader implications of white supremacy, police brutality and violence against people of color.
Her statements ended with an outburst from Christian in which he stood up, took off his mask and yelled threats including: “I should’ve killed you, bitch.”
Christian was escorted out of the courtroom by Multnomah County sheriff’s deputies and remained in a separate room to view and listen to victim impact statements via video.
He was again placed in that separate room Wednesday to watch Micah Fletcher’s statements remotely.
Fletcher, the man who survived Christian's attack on the MAX train, was the last person to give a statement Wednesday morning.
He said Christian’s attack has affected his life in numerous ways, including becoming dependent on alcohol for nine months following the 2017 events on the MAX train.
He said he faces fear and anxiety in everyday interactions. For example, he said, a few weeks ago, his partner was making breakfast and using a butter knife on toast.
Fletcher said he grabbed her arm and didn’t even realize he was doing so.
“This is in every aspect of my life. There is not a room I can enter without scanning it first to see who is the person who could hurt me,” Fletcher said.
“I basically spend the first 30 seconds of every event I enter trying to figure out how easily I could die.”
Fletcher directed some of his statements to Christian, who was seated in a separate room, watching proceedings via video.
“As far as you and me, we’re good,” Fletcher said. “Because, the fact of the matter is if the you you brought into the court is true, you and I both are alcoholics. Both are mentally ill … the difference is I was given an abundance of resources, and either you weren’t or [they weren’t of any help to you.]”
Fletcher continued: “Though I hope you sit in a cell for the rest of your life, … I do hope that you find a way to become better than what you are today.”
Christian was also given a chance to speak Wednesday. He spoke on a variety of topics including nihilism, the electoral college and the criminal justice system.
“I will not accept any guilt. I defended myself according to the law,” Christian said. “This is a stand-your-ground state, and I stood my ground.”
Christian, who grew up in Portland, called the city “a rotten cesspool of intolerance and violence.”
“Portland cannot even tolerate a little free speech,” he said. “It wasn’t hate speech on the MAX. … It was designated to get a reaction, not to murder anyone.”
Christian also directed statements at Fletcher, though it’s unclear if Fletcher heard them as he left the courtroom after giving his victim impact statement.
“To Micah Fletcher personally, I hold no ill will. You chose violence. I chose violence. People died. You survived,” Christian said.
He said Fletcher should apologize to the families of Namkai-Meche and Best for “being the main contributor of their deaths.”
“Feel free to write me in prison,” Christian directed at Fletcher.
Zhada Allen, a Black teenager who was on the MAX Green Line the day of the stabbings in 2017, spoke outside of the courthouse after the sentencing.
Allen, now 17, was 14 when she witnessed the stabbings.
“I can’t wait until I can get my peace,” Allen said. “I can grieve now. I can just move on with life.”
She said it’s been unfortunate that she and others affected by Christian have had to wait three years for an outcome.
“It makes me very emotional that I had to continue to wait and wait and wait,” Allen said. “It just felt like ripping a Band-Aid off a wound continuously, having to relive the situation, replay it, go to trial, do victim impact statements. It’s a lot.”
Before her sentencing decision, Judge Albrecht described the proceedings as happening at a “time of reckoning in our community, our state, our country, our world, of our racist and discriminatory past.”
Racism, white supremacy and systematic violence against people of color were themes at the root of many of the victim impact statements shared during the hearing.
“From the beginning of this case, we have seen and heard the racism and hatred cast by Jeremy Christian,” Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill said in a statement. “His appalling actions and beliefs will never have a place in our community.”
Underhill continued: “Although we still deeply hurt, we are stronger in our resolve to stand up to and reject hate.”