Jeremy Christian
Jeremy Christian Beth Nakamura / Pool Photographer/ OregonLive

Jeremy Christian has been unanimously convicted on all 12 criminal charges tied to the 2017 MAX stabbings—including two first-degree murder charges—by a 12-person jury.

Murder in the first degree carries the possibility of life in prison.

Christian, 37, was accused of fatally stabbing Ricky Best and Taliesin Namkai-Meche and wounding Micah Fletcher—three men who confronted Christian when he broke into an anti-Muslim rant on the MAX train on May 26, 2017.

He was also charged with intimidation crimes (Oregon's equivalent of a hate crime) for directing his rant at Walia Mohamed and Destinee Magnum, two Black teenagers who were also riding the MAX that day. Mohamed was wearing a hijab, a headscarf signifying her Muslim faith, at the time.

Christian faced another charge for threatening fellow passenger Shawn Forde with a knife after Forde used his body to block Mohamed and Magnum from Christian’s sight. Lastly, Christian was handed another intimidation charge for allegedly assaulting Demetria Hester, an African American woman who confronted Christian on the MAX the day prior while he was spouting another racist diatribe.

The verdict comes after a month-long trial featuring testimony from psychiatric doctors, law enforcement officials, victim's families, and dozens of witnesses who were riding the MAX the day of the stabbings.

Jurors were given the option to reduce Christian’s murder charges from first-degree to second-degree during deliberation. A first-degree murder charge implies that the defendant intended to murder his victims, while a second-degree charge applies to murders considered more spur-of-the-moment and possibly unintentional.

The jury took two days to reach a verdict, which was announced this afternoon by Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Albrecht. As Albrecht read the charges in court, victims and their families responded with audible gasps and tears. As the charges involving her assault were read, Hester stuck fist up into the air.

Outside the courthouse, Hester told the Mercury she wasn't sure how the jury would rule, "because the way our society is going."

Asked what was going through her mind as verdict was read, Hester replied: “Satisfaction... and a little bit of hope that the 12 jurors got it—they understood that it was hate that drove this man.

"And if he ever got out again," she continued, "it would be the same hate.”

The sentencing date for Christian's charges has yet to be scheduled.

Jurors have been ordered to return to the courtroom Tuesday, February 25 to weigh in on what facts about the case should be considered in the sentencing process.

Community leaders have begun responding to the ruling.

"We're really grateful for the jury's service in the case," said Zakir Khan, spokesperson for the Oregon chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). "They said they believed survivors and the victims of this case. I think that mentality is enough to create a culture change within Oregon that can help us overcome both the hate that is within our state and our country."

"The incident aboard the MAX train on May 26, 2017, left a deep wound in our community, a community that rejects hate, racism and violence in any form," wrote Mayor Ted Wheeler on Twitter. "The conviction won’t fully take away the pain inflicted on the families, friends and loved ones of the victims in the MAX attack, but the hope is that they find relief in the legal justice that was served today."

From Portland Police Chief Jami Resch: "While the criminal phase of this event has concluded, the deep impacts of the loss of lives for the families, friends, and our community will not be forgotten. Violence is not acceptable in the City of Portland. My hope is for us to come together as a community with more kindness and increased tolerance for differences as we continue our healing."

“Portland, not for the first time, has seen the deadly consequences of unchecked hate," said Lindsay Schubiner, spokesperson for the Western States Center, a group that tracks hate crimes in the Pacific Northwest. "We must remember the two people who gave their lives to defend another and come together as a community to reject hate and keep our community safe for everyone.”

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City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty posted this statement on Facebook: "While this sentence is a relief, it is not justice. Two lives were lost, and three additional lives have been radically altered since their encounter with Christian. A prison sentence will not change the fact that he is still a white supremacist, but it is currently the only system we have to address these acts of violence.

"Today’s verdict will have ramifications for years to come," Hardesty continued. "May we all have the strength and courage of those who stood up to Christian that day. White supremacy and hate are not welcome here in Portland, and we all have a role to play in countering it every day."

In a press statement, Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill said: “Our community continues to feel the profound impact from this violent and racist attack that happened more than two years ago. This verdict supports and upholds the state’s belief that Jeremy Joseph Christian acted intentionally when he committed these crimes. We thank the jurors for their dedication, diligence and swift deliverance of justice. While we are pleased with today’s verdict, we continue to focus our efforts toward helping the families of Ricky Best and Taliesin Namkai-Meche as well as Micah Fletcher, Demetria Hester, Wailo Mohamed, Destinee Mangum and Shawn Forde deal with the unimaginable and lasting trauma caused by Jeremy Joseph Christian."