Attorneys met in a Multnomah County courtroom this afternoon to hash out what evidence the yet-to-be selected jury in the upcoming Jeremy Christian trial should be allowed access to.
Christian is accused of fatally stabbing two men and injuring a third on May 26, 2017, after the men attempted to stop Christian from hurling anti-Muslim rhetoric at two African American girls who were riding the MAX. Christian faces 17 charges, including two counts of aggravated murder. His trial is expected to begin on Tuesday, January 28.
At Monday's pre-trial hearing before Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Albrecht, county prosecutor Don Rees argued that the 12 jurors should be allowed to physically tour the exact MAX train car where the incident happened to better visualize the scenario.
"The jurors will learn firsthand about the layout, dimensions, size, shape, and overall appearance of the car’s interior," said Rees. "Which is highly relevant."
He said no jury members would be able to ask questions or comment during the visit. While the county already has a number of videos and photos taken during the incident, Rees said that those snippets only give jurors a partial perspective of what's going on.
Christian's attorney Greg Scholl disagreed. Scholl argued that the MAX car tour would inspire juror's prejudice against his client.
"Having the jurors in this case enter the train car but not be able to speak during the time, it's tantamount to placing jurors into the shoes of the deceased," said Scholl. "It's akin to a funeral recession."
County prosecutors also asked Albrecht for permission to show jurors a cell phone video taken of Christian the day before the alleged crime.
On May 25, 2017, Demetria Hester was riding the Yellow Line MAX when Christian sat behind her and allegedly made racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Muslim comments to no one in particular. After Christian ignored her requests to stop making these statements, Hester told him she was going to call the police.
When they exited the MAX at the Rose Quarter, Christian allegedly threatened to hit her—and she pepper sprayed him in the back of his head. In response, Christian allegedly chucked a half-full water bottle at Hester's face. While police responded to the scene, officers said they didn't have enough evidence to arrest Christian. So, he boarded a Blue Line MAX, where he sat down in front of Karissa Krall.
According to county prosecutors, Krall began filming Christian with her cell phone camera after he began rattling off racist threats.
While prosecutors didn't play the video in the courtroom, court documents allege that Krall's video captures Christian saying: "Punk ass bitches. Moving into my fucking hometown. Telling me what I can and cannot say on the motherfucking yellow line and then you want to mace me. Fuck you hoes."
Christian allegedly went on to threaten the MAX driver, saying, "I'II stab you too bitch... Fuck you. I'm about to stab some motherfuckers. Call the police. I dare you. Let's do this shit."
According to Multnomah County prosecutor Jeff Howes, this video shows strong evidence of Christian's criminal intent just 16 hours before the fatal attack.
"This is an interesting situation," said Howes. "You’ve got a snapshot into the defendant's mind between these two incidents. He’s making specific statements about the kind of harm he wants to do to them. He wants to stab them."
Christian, who sat quietly next to his attorneys during today's hearing, nodded as Howes made his agreement.
"Rarely does one obtain evidence more relevant than this in a case of this magnitude," Howes said.
Christian's attorneys also opposed this request, arguing that the video was not relevant enough to the case and didn't take into account the fact that Christian was upset after being maced.
Albrecht is expected to rule on these two requests by January 6. Jury selection for the trial is scheduled to begin on January 26. The trial itself expected to take up to a month.