An Oregon man showed little remorse Friday after a jury convicted him in the fatal stabbings of two men who stepped in to stop his hate-filled tirade against two Black women aboard a Portland train.
Jeremy Christian was found guilty of murdering Taliesin Namkai-Meche and Ricky Best in the May 2017 stabbing, AP reports. Jurors also convicted Christian of attempted murder for stabbing sole survivor Micah Fletcher, in addition to multiple other charges after prosecutors said he threatened and assaulted another Black woman aboard a MAX train in a separate incident the night before.
The Portland native was convicted on 12 counts in all and now faces life in prison.
“There’s no way I can explain what happened,” Christian, 37, told the cops following his arrest, according to a transcript of his comments read at trial. “Except both of those people would be alive if they had kept their hands to themselves. Or got off the train or allowed me to have my free speech.”
The suspect reportedly has ties to far-right group Patriot Prayer, and was seen giving the Nazi salute while donning a U.S. flag at a rally organized by the fringe group in video that surfaced just days after the stabbings.
On May 26, 2016, authorities say Christian boarded a crowded commuter train and proceeded to shout racist and Islamophobic slurs at two young Black women, one of whom is a Somali immigrant and wears a headscarf. Witnesses allege he made a slicing motion across his neck during the rant and mentioned decapitation.
Namkai-Meche was standing by and attempted to film the racist outburst, after which Christian grabbed his cellphone and smashed it on the floor. That’s when Fletcher intervened, getting into a shoving match with the suspect.
Moments later, Christian pulled out a folding knife and stabbed the two men 11 times in a matter of seconds, according to prosecutors. He also stabbed a third passenger, Best, an innocent bystander.
Both Namkai-Meche and Best died at the scene after suffering stab wounds to the neck. Fletcher was seriously injured but survived the grisly attack.
Prosecutors played video from the incident throughout the trial, and the Black victims, Destinee Magnum and Walio Mohamed, gave emotional testimony from the stand.
“I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon,” Magnum said through tears. sobbing. “So, like, I don’t feel like I should go somewhere else, I don’t feel like I have to go back to where I came from because I’m born here. It just made me feel like, ‘Why?’ There’s no reason.”
Christian admitted to his action but pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness. At trial, attorneys for the defendant claimed he acted in self-defense, saying Christian grew “concerned” when Namkai-Meche confronted him on the train while attempting to video the incident.
He expressed little emotion as the verdicts were read Friday, just as he had throughout the trial. On the first day of the proceedings, Christian told the judge he’d rather wear his jail-issued uniform instead of a suit because doing so would be like lying.
“I don’t care how much time I spend in prison,” he told the court. “All I care about is the public gets to see and hear what happened on the train.”
Watch more in the video below.