A man convicted of killing two men and injuring a third on a light rail train in Portland in 2017 was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole, CBS affiliate KOIN-TV reported. Jeremy Christian was found guilty earlier this year on 12 counts, including the murders of Taliesin Namkai-Meche, 23, and Ricky Best, 53.
"I'm hoping you're able to accept responsibility one day," Judge Cheryl Albrecht said before she handed down the sentence, KOIN-TV reported.
Albrecht, who announced the sentencing after hearing several victim impact statements, said her decision was based on Christian not showing a willingness to be rehabilitated nor had he displayed remorse for the killings.
Christian yelled "F---- Muslims" at two teen girls, one of whom was wearing a hijab, on the light rail train in 2017 before stabbing Namkai-Meche, Best and a third man, Micah Fletcher, who tried to intervene to stop the hate-filled tirade, one of the teens, Walia Mohamed,Mohamed said she and her friend Destinee Magnum, who are both black, didn't realize that Christian had a knife until they saw him stab Namkai-Meche. She said they ran, terrified.
Court documents in the case say Namkai-Meche and Fletcher were trying to stop Christian's ranting and protect the two teenagers when a fight broke out. Best then tried to intervene and all three were stabbed in the neck. Fletcher gave an emotional victim impact statement Wednesday, describing his struggle to deal with anger and trauma in the years since the stabbing. He apologized to the families of Best and Namkai-Meche, saying he wanted to get to know them after the incident, but that he felt he couldn't be around them without thinking about the gruesome memories of their slain loved ones.
The sentence was handed down a day after deputies escorted Christian out of the courtroom at the judge's orders after he told a survivor he regretted not killing her in an expletive-filled tirade.
His outburst was directed at Demetria Hester, a black woman who suffered a serious eye injury after Christian struck her with a half-filled Gatorade bottle. She described him as a white supremacist and a plague on society.
Christian's lawyer argued that Christian has neuropsychological dysfunction that makes it difficult for him to control his emotions or behavior, "demonstrated in the courtroom as recently as yesterday."
Just before he was sentenced, Christian gave a rambling statement in which he cast blame on his victims, denied being a racist and insisted he had been defending himself. "I do regret that two people died, but I do not regret my actions that led to their deaths," Christian said.
Addressing Christian, who appeared on a video feed, Fletcher said: "Somebody must have failed miserably when it comes to raising you."
Fletcher said that he hoped Christian would "sit in a cell the rest of his life" so he would never be able to hurt anyone again. But he also said, "I hope you find a way to become a better person than you are today."