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Man sentenced in fatal light rail stabbings plans to appeal

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A man sentenced to life in prison for killing two men and injuring another during a racist rant on a crowded Portland light-rail train is appealing his conviction.

Court records show Jeremy Christian filed a notice of appeal on Dec. 2, and then requested transcripts of over 40 hearings from the case, KOIN-TV reported. The state has appointed Christian a lawyer.

In February, a jury unanimously convicted Christian on all 12 counts. Multnomah County Circuit Judge Cheryl Albrecht sentenced the 38-year-old in June to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole for the murders of Taliesin Namkai-Meche, 23, and Ricky Best, 53.

No court documents have been filed yet that outline the grounds for Christian’s appeal or whether Christian is appealing his conviction, his life sentence or both. Public defense lawyer Marc Brown, however, told The Oregonian/OregonLive on Monday that Christian is appealing both. Brown said because he’s just been assigned the case, he can’t speak to the grounds.

But Brown said Oregon’s new first-degree murder law, which was passed into law in 2019 as Senate Bill 1013, is “definitely a potential issue.” Some legal experts have said they believe the law under which Christian was sentenced is unconstitutional and vague.

Christian stabbed Namkai-Meche and Best to death and wounded Micah Fletcher on a MAX Green Line as it pulled into the Hollywood Transit Center on May 26, 2017.

Christian boarded the train during the evening commute and began shouting racist, anti-Muslim and xenophobic slurs at two young Black women, prosecutors said. One was an immigrant from Somalia and wore a Muslim headscarf.

As his tirade continued, Christian grabbed Namkai-Meche’s cellphone as he tried to film and threw it to the ground. Authorities say Fletcher stood up to intervene and got into a shoving match with Christian, who was taunting the men to “do something” to stop him before he stabbed them.

Christian, at sentencing said he regretted that two people died but, "I do not regret my actions.”

Oregonian / OregonLive photo