This story originally appeared on our sister publication The Portland Mercury's blog Blogtown, where you can find the latest updates on Portland's ongoing protests related to the killing of George Floyd.
Jeremy Christian has been sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for fatally stabbing Ricky Best and Taliesin Namkai-Meche, and wounding Micah Fletcher, on a Portland MAX train in 2017.
In February, Christian was found guilty of all 12 charges against him associated with those May 26, 2017 stabbings—which included intimidation crimes (Oregon's equivalent of a hate crime) for directing a racist rant at Walia Mohamed and Destinee Magnum, two Black teenagers who were also riding the MAX that day. The sentencing hearing began Tuesday, and Judge Cheryl Albrecht delivered Christian's sentence late Wednesday morning.
Before this week's hearing, it was expected that Christian would receive a sentence equivalent to a life behind bars—but it was less clear if would be granted the possibility of parole. Albrecht's decision takes away that possibility. Christian wasn't eligible for the death penalty because of recent legislation that greatly narrowed the death penalty's scope in Oregon.
Albrecht said the decision to deny Christian future parole came from her belief that Christian "cannot be rehabilitated," and that he has not shown remorse for the killings.
Albrecht gave Christian two life sentences without the possibility of parole—one for each person he killed—along with additional sentences for the 10 other charges for which he was found guilty. Those additional charges included threatening fellow passenger Shawn Forde with a knife after Forde used his body to block Mohamed and Magnum from Christian’s sight; as well as for assaulting Demetria Hester, an African American woman who confronted Christian on the MAX the day prior while he was spouting another racist speech.
Christian's two-day sentencing hearing featured emotional impact statements from his surviving victims, as well as from family members of Best and Namkai-Meche.
On Wednesday, Forde called Christian's actions on the MAX train "white terrorism," and said he's suffered from insomnia since witnessing the killings.
Fletcher, who survived a stab wound from Christian, said he's suffered from excessive drinking, "nightmares in perpetual forms," and paranoia in the three years since the stabbings.
"I basically spend the first 30 seconds of every event or area I enter, trying to figure out how easily I could die," Fletcher said. "I basically feel like a stranger everywhere that I go."
Fletcher also had a message for Christian during his impact statement.
"It is abundantly clear that we as a society... somebody must have failed miserably when it comes down to raising you," Fletcher told Christian. "It pisses me off... this has to stop, eventually."
During Hester's statement, Christian erupted in a violent rant, forcing his removal from the courtroom. Here's the video from KGW. (Warning: this might be unsettling for some to watch).
Christian watched the rest of his sentencing hearing from another room in the courthouse. His original sentencing date had been pushed back several months due to COVID-19. Some witnesses gave their statements through video calls, rather than being physically present in the courtroom.
When given the chance to make his own statement Wednesday, Christian delivered a winding diatribe in which he described himself as a "nihilist" and did not take responsibility for Best's and Namkai-Meche's deaths, saying he "defended myself according to the law."
"They involved themselves in the situation, and sadly, they have died," Christian said. "I regret that they have died, but I do not regret my actions that led to their deaths."
Before delivering the sentence, Albrecht told Christian that it is her "sincere hope that one day you are able to gain insight [and] accept responsibility."