Man charged with hate crime at Medford rally to argue self-defense
A White City man accused of using his truck as a weapon in a crime “motivated by prejudice” will argue that he was acting in defense of himself and his daughter in downtown Medford.
Christopher Ryan Biggs, 51, filed notice earlier this week that he intends to use legal defenses that include self-defense, defense of another person and defense of his property in response to a felony charge of unlawful use of a weapon and misdemeanor counts of menacing and reckless endangering stemming from a June 1 altercation with Black Lives Matter demonstrators that was captured on video.
The Jackson County District Attorney’s Office has stated it intends to argue that Biggs was “motivated by prejudice,” according to Jackson County Circuit Court records and an earlier news report. Biggs also faces a first-degree bias charge after a Medford police officer allegedly witnessed Biggs shouting “You f---ing queers” at demonstrators marching for racial equality prior to the altercation.
According to a Wednesday court filing made by his defense lawyer, Maryanne Pitcher, Biggs will argue that he was acting in defense of his daughter, who drives for a medical service and was stopped and surrounded by protesters.
“Defendant’s daughter felt threatened and called [Biggs] for help,” Pitcher wrote. “Defendant was then also stopped by the protesters, surrounded and his vehicle was damaged.”
Pitcher claims that protesters yelled at Biggs while he was en route to his daughter and began hitting his vehicle.
“Some individuals in the crowd had ‘weapons’ such as signs and a scooter,” Pitcher wrote. “Defendant felt threatened because the protesters hit and damaged his vehicle and windows while yelling at him.”
Biggs’ next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 21, when Pitcher will try to prevent a jury from hearing audio in two videos of the protest that captured the altercation.
Pitcher argues that the audio contains statements from the crowd that “contain factual inaccuracies and sensationalized screams and yells, according to a Sept. 29 filing. In one video, someone in the crowd states that Biggs was armed with a gun, which Pitcher states is false.
In another video, a bystander yells, “Oh, no, let him go!” as the footage captures screaming and sounds of an impact, according to the filing.
“Even if the jury is told on the record that [Biggs] did not have a gun, hearing the statements about the guns ... would paint the defendant as a violent person,” Pitcher writes.
A two-day trial for Biggs is scheduled to start Feb. 23.
Trial dates have not been set for two others facing weapons charges in unrelated altercations during the downtown Medford marches for racial equality that were held in solidarity with nationwide marches after the killing by police of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
David Robert Westmoreland, 51, of Central Point, has a pretrial conference set for Dec. 11 on charges of unlawful use of a weapon and menacing, accusing him of pulling a gun on demonstrators in a June 1 incident.
Marcella Renee Welch, 56, of Medford, has a pretrial conference set for Nov. 20 on charges of weapon use and menacing accusing her of pulling a gun on demonstrators from her vehicle during a June 6 rally in downtown Medford.