Closing arguments were made Friday in the case of Russell Courtier at the Multnomah County Courthouse. Courtier is charged with murder and accused of killing a black man with his fiancee’s Jeep.
Both the prosecution and the defense showed the video of Courtier and Larnell Bruce Jr. at a standoff in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven in Gresham. But their accounts of what the video actually shows differed.
The prosecution says it was a fight. The defense says Bruce attacked Courtier.
“There’s not a shred of evidence that when Russell Courtier got into that Jeep to go to the 7-Eleven that there was anything in his mind other than going to the store, getting what he needed and driving a half mile home. But that’s not how the night unfolds,” Kevin Sali, Courtier’s attorney told the courtroom.
Bruce was allegedly trying to sell a machete to customers entering the 7-Eleven. The defense says that same knife was later used to threaten Courtier.
The video ultimately shows the men going in different directions after their encounter, and then Courtier chasing and fatally hitting Bruce with a Jeep.
Prosecutor David Hannon said that based on the facts presented in the trial one thing is clear, that following the altercation Courtier made a choice to hit Bruce with the truck.
“When he got into that Jeep, when he got into that driver’s seat, when he got behind that wheel, he had one intent and one intent in mind and that was to kill Larnell Bruce,” Hannon said. “He wanted to kill the young man that got the better of him in a fight.”
After Courtier hit Bruce, he drove away. Prosecutors say police showed up about a minute later and tried to help Bruce. He was taken to the hospital, where he later died.
Courtier is a white man with, prosecutors say, ties to the white supremacist prison gang European Kindred; Bruce was a 19-year-old black man.
Police found a hat with the letters “EK” painted on it at the scene. Courtier also has a tattoo of the letters on his leg.
The families of Bruce and Courtier squeezed into two benches in the courtroom beside onlookers who came to witness the trial in Multnomah County Circuit Judge Jerry Hodson’s courtroom.
Images of Bruce’s slain body and blood stains that were left behind on the sidewalk repeatedly flashed on a large screen TV in front of the jury, along with multiple angles of security videos and images taken from the recordings.
The Jeep belonged to Courtier’s girlfriend, Colleen Hunt. Hunt was in the passenger seat when Bruce was hit. On Wednesday, she pleaded guilty to charges of manslaughter.
Jurors began deliberating Friday. They’ll decide whether Courtier is found guilty of murder, a hit-and-run and a hate crime of intimidation.