Lawyers argue over evidence in Jeremy Christian trial
In another procedural hearing about what can and can not be admitted as evidence during his capital murder trial, accused MAX killer Jeremy Christian's attorneys argued about the jury makeup and whether certain defense tactics are allowable, KOIN 6 News reports.
Christian, accused of killing two people and wounding a third on a MAX train in May 2017, previously pleaded not guilty to more than a dozen charges related to the 2017 attack. He allegedly went on an anti-Muslim tirade and stabbed to death Ricky Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche as the MAX pulled into the Hollywood Transit Station in Northeast Portland.
The Multnomah County District Attorney's Office is prosecuting this as a capital case.
Christian's attorneys challenged the composition of the jury and grand jury and claimed there is an under-representation of Hispanics in the jury pool. Prosecutors said there's no evidence of that.
They debated a motion to allow extreme emotional disturbance as a defense to aggravated murder. Prosecutors said previous rulings said this is not a defense and said case law clearly shows this defense is not applicable. The judge is looking to see if the Supreme Court has recently responded on this issue.
The defense wants to place the burden on the prosecution to disprove extreme emotional disturbance, but prosecutors said the US Supreme Court has made it clear the burden is on the defense.
"They want to forward an argument that he suffered from extreme emotional distress," said prosecutor Ryan Lunkin. "We want to forward a counterargument that 'no, he's an antisocial personality disorder who repeatedly engages in violence and this was simply just one of those acts of violence that he chose to engage in that day.' They're talking about prior bad act evidence that needs to be admitted, I guess, in their view, as substantive evidence to try and disprove evidence and that's just incorrect under the Oregon Evidence Code."
Other motions about limiting the state's mental examination of Christian, a demand for proportionality evidence and the ability to present that evidence to a jury and to declare Christian ineligible for the death penalty remain under discussion.
'Capital case' versus 'the death penalty'
Jeremy Christian is charged with aggravated murder. If he is convicted, the jury will decide in the sentencing phase of the case what his punishment should be.
Aggravated murder carries with it the distinction of being a capital crime, meaning the death penalty is one of the options a jury could select during sentencing.
While this is a "capital case," no district attorney's office in Oregon "seeks the death penalty," the Multnomah County DA's Office told KOIN 6 News Friday.
The jury could sentence a convicted person to death, to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, or life imprisonment. A "life imprisonment" sentence means the convict will spend at least 30 years in prison before being eligible for parole.
His next court appearance
Jeremy Christian had not been in court since October 2018 when prosecutors and the defense debated hundreds of motions in the case. An appearance in early January was postponed until Friday.
His next court appearance is now scheduled for February 22.
The trial is currently scheduled to begin in late June 2019
KOIN 6 News is a media partner of the Portland Tribune.