A 70-year-old woman who was beaten and strangled at the Redmond motel she owns testified from a hospital bed Monday, appearing on camera before a Deschutes County grand jury.
James David Lamb, 53, was indicted for attempted murder and bias under Oregon’s revised hate crime law, among other charges.
The bias charges are “based on his statements regarding the victim’s country of origin being India and his expressed desire to rid America of people like her,” according to a press release from Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel.
Lamb, a Eugene resident, was a guest at the Hub Motel in Redmond on New Year’s Eve, when police said he used a trash can to smash through a glass door and attack the owner in her office. Officers apprehended him in his room. While being booked into the Deschutes County Jail, he grinned for the camera.
The attempted murder charge carries the stiffest penalties, but the bias charges are “important because they're a statement of community values,” Hummel said in an interview.
Lawmakers amended Oregon's laws dealing with hate crimes last year. One revision allows prosecutors to pursue felony charges when a defendant acts alone to harm another because of that person's race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or national origin.
Previously, felony charges were only authorized if the crime involved two or more perpetrators.
“It kind of made sense when we had these Ku Klux Klan mobs coming on horseback with torches to someone's house,” Hummel said, “But [the law] just clearly missed the mark when we know that a single person can terrorize someone else because of their gender, race or national origin.”
The same day the Redmond hotel owner was attacked, the Oregon Department of Justice launched a hotline to receive reports of hate crimes and hate speech: 1-844-924-BIAS. People can also report and get more information about what constitutes a hate crime at the department's website.
“We have a team at DOJ that’s monitoring what’s coming into the hotline,” said spokeswoman Kristina Edmunson.
As of Monday evening, no one had called the number yet.
The follow up on each report will be determined on a case-by-case basis, Edmunson said, stressing: “We always tell people if they are in immediate threat or danger they should contact local law enforcement right away.”
Lamb is scheduled to appear in court Friday. He’s charged with attempted murder, two counts of bias, assault, burglary, strangulation, menacing and criminal mischief.
While the victim’s name will be included in court documents, a family spokesperson requested privacy in the media, according to Hummel.