The Big Picture
The prosecution continued its case against Jeremy Christian on Friday morning. Christian is accused of stabbing and killing two people and injuring a third on a TriMet MAX light rail train in Portland in May 2017.
So far in the trial, witnesses have said Christian was shouting racist comments while two young black women — Walia Mohamed and Destinee Mangum — were nearby on the train. Mohamed is a Muslim and was wearing a hijab at the time.
Christian is also accused of harassing and assaulting Demetria Hester, an African American woman, on a MAX train the day prior.
He faces a dozen felony and misdemeanor charges, including multiple counts of first-degree murder and intimidation.
UPDATE (3:31 p.m. PT) — Prosecutors focused Friday morning’s testimony on the night before the stabbings, May 25, 2017, when Christian is accused of assaulting Hester. Prosecutors called eight witnesses, including Hester, two TriMet employees and the Portland police officer who responded to the scene.
Hester boarded the MAX Yellow Line around 10 p.m. She said when Christian boarded the train, he was “yelling, ranting and raving.” Prosecutors said timestamps from the video show Christian was yelling for around 12 minutes.
She testified he was yelling “that he was a Nazi, that he hated all Muslims, Blacks, Jews … that we shouldn’t be in his country, breathing his air.”
Hester said she told Christian to “shut up” and that “no one wants to be threatened because of their race, color or creed.”
Hester said Christian began specifically yelling at her after she spoke up.
The prosecution showed the court and jury screenshots from the train’s security cameras — showing Christian yelling and gesturing in Hester’s direction.
“He responded with, ‘Fuck you, bitch. I can say what I want. Free speech,’” she said. And, “‘You can call the police. I’ve been to prison before. You can call whoever you want to call. I’ll kill them too.’”
Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Jeff Howes asked Hester how Christian’s words and actions made her feel. “Like he was going to attack me,” Hester replied.
She said she noticed Christian drinking from a large Gatorade bottle.
Christian and Hester ended up getting off at the same stop. “I knew he was about to do something now that he was off the train,” she said.
Hester said as Christian exited the train he told her, “Bitch, you’re about to get it.”
She said she sprayed him with mace as he was putting his bag down outside of the train. He then threw his half-full Gatorade bottle at her and hit her right eye “so hard … like a baseball. Like a bullet.” She said after the bottle hit her, liquid spilled out and she could tell it contained alcohol. Hester said Christian was not slurring his words and did not seem intoxicated.
The jury and courtroom were shown a photo of Hester from about 10 minutes after she was hit. Her eye appeared to be almost swollen shut with an already darkening bruise. She said she’s had continuing issues with her eye since the altercation, including sensitivity to light.
After the incident, Hester said she spoke with a Portland Police officer and pointed out Christian, who was washing his eyes at a water fountain. Christian was not arrested.
One of Christian’s defense attorneys, Greg Scholl, asked Hester about her giving testimony to legislators in Salem for Senate Bill 577, a bill that expanded Oregon’s hate crime laws. Hester said she had and that she had spoken to multiple media outlets as well since the altercation.
“Why do you feel so strongly about speaking out about this?” Howes asked Hester.
“There are a lot of hate crimes in the world today and they need to be stopped,” she replied.
The prosecution also called two TriMet supervisors Friday morning. Andrew Garcia, a TriMet supervisor, was at the MAX platform with a co-worker, Bradley Hanson, when the altercation between Christian and Hester occurred. They had gotten a call that an argument was taking place on the train that was arriving.
Garcia said he heard Christian say something along the lines of “Next time I see you I’m going to kill you” to Hester, before Hester used pepper spray on Christian.
Hanson said he asked Christian if he was involved in the incident on the train to which Christian replied, “Get away or I’ll stab you,” Hanson said. Hanson said he took Christian’s threat very seriously and stepped away.
Garcia said he pointed out Christian, washing his face at a water fountain, to Portland Officer Neal Glaske.
“I told the officer many times, ‘That’s him. I saw him assault that young lady with a bottle,’” Garcia said. “[The officer] said, ‘I need to hear that from her.’”
Garcia said he told the officer: “You might want to tell him he’s not free to go.” Garcia said the officer said he was going to call for backup, and while he was talking to Hester, Christian started walking away. Garcia said he did not see Christian again after that.
Glaske testified next.
“I was by myself I was waiting for a cover officer to arrive,” Glaske said in response to the question of why he didn’t immediately arrest Christian. “When you have someone who has recently assaulted someone, you don’t know what their state of mind is going to be.”
Glaske said when he was talking to Hester, Garcia and Hanson, he saw Christian by the water fountain. He said Christian did not seem to show any concern that a police officer was on-site. Glaske said he saw Christian starting to walk away.
“Once I got in my patrol car to follow Mr. Christian, he was no longer in sight.”
On Glaske’s police report, he wrote “none” in the category of bias — stating he did not believe there was a bias or hate crime took place at the time of his investigation.
Glaske said due to the nature of the altercation, the incident was still directed to officers who investigate bias crimes.
After the court’s lunch recess, the prosecution called witnesses related to the day of the stabbings, May 26, 2017.
Dr. Kelly Dean Gubler, a trauma surgeon at Legacy Emanuel in 2017, testified he examined Taliesin Namkai-Meche, one of the men who died in the MAX attack, and Micah Fletcher, the man who survived.
Gubler said there was nothing he could do for Namkai-Meche. “He had died before he arrived,” he said.
When Gubler saw Fletcher, he said, “he had a very, very similar injury [to Namkai-Meche] … it was a little bit higher.”
Fletcher’s jugular vein was lacerated, whereas Namkai-Meche’s carotid artery was cut, Gubler said.
“For one person, it was very fortunate. For the other, it was a devastating injury,” Gubler said of the men’s injuries.
The next witnesses the prosecution called were people who were on the MAX train that day, though in a separate car from where the stabbing occurred.
Kathryn Bradach-Williamson and Alvin Hall were on the train the day of the stabbings, in the second car.
When Bradach-Williamson exited the train, she said she saw two girls who were “visibly upset” — Walia Mohamed and Destinee Mangum, whom Christian is accused of directing his racist ranting at on the train.
Bradach-Williamson said the girls ran up the stairs from the platform, and she saw Christian following them. She said she witnessed Christian picking up Mohamed’s dropped bag and throwing it onto Interstate 84.
Bradach-Williamson said she attempted to follow Christian. “I didn’t want anybody else to get hurt,” she said. She met up with her husband, jumping in his car. They attempted to locate Christian but eventually lost him.
Hall, who was also in the second train car, also tried to follow Christian.
Hall said he ran up the stairs from the platform and across the pedestrian bridge over I-84. He eventually found Christian rinsing blood from himself and his knife with a bottle of soda.
He said Christian looked up at him and said: “Are you a fucking snitch? Do you want some of this? Am I going to have to do to you the same thing I did to those guys?”
Hall said he ran from Christian and Christian chased after him for about a quarter of a block where a “kid with a skateboard came by.” Hall said Christian interacted similarly with the kid, asking “Are you getting involved with this? Are you following me too?”
Christian then started walking the opposite way, Hall said.
Hall said he eventually saw Christian again near the Providence Medical Center and kept his distance. Portland police arrived soon after.
What Happens Next
The prosecution continues presenting its case Monday against Christian. The trial itself is expected to last through the end of February.