Multnomah County prosecutors continued their case Wednesday in the trial of Jeremy Christian, the man charged with killing two people and stabbing a third on a light rail train in Portland more than 21/2 ago.
The state’s first witness of the day was Marcus Knipe, an Army veteran who now works at the Department of Veteran Affairs. He was standing with his family on the Hollywood MAX station platform on May 26, 2017, when a Green Line train pulled up to the platform.
“I heard screaming before the train doors opened,” Knipe testified. “When the doors opened there was even more screaming. People were rushing off the MAX train, up the stairs to leave the area. And that’s when I knew something was wrong.”
Multnomah County Chief Deputy District Attorney Don Rees asked Knipe what he saw.
“The victim Micah Fletcher came stumbling out of the train,” Knipe said. “When him and I locked eyes, we came towards each other. I helped him to to the ground, I put my hand on his neck to put pressure.”
Fletcher survived the stabbing that day, but two other men — Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, and Ricky Best, 53 — died from knife wounds inflicted by Christian. Christian is facing a dozen charges in the case, including first-degree murder.
Knipe used a baby blanket to try to stop Fletcher’s bleeding. Prosecutors showed jurors an image from a security camera, with Knipe holding what appeared to be a pink blanket. Fletcher’s eyes are open wide.
Knipe said he saw Christian throw his shoulder into an African American man who was wearing a Marine Corps cap.
“‘Do you want some too?’” Knipe recalled Christian saying to the man. “‘I’ll cut you also.’”
Prosecutors also called Morgan Noonan, who was on the train during the attack.
“There was a lot of yelling,” Noonan said. “Mostly racist comments mixed with political statements, things you would say if you wanted to provoke a response.”
Noonan said he remembered hearing Christian say slurs against black people and gays and lesbians and talk of beheading Muslims.
Christian, who was seated between his two attorneys, appeared to smirk and shook his head.
Noonan testified he saw Christian stab Best and Namkai-Meche. He then testified Christian left the train, but confronted the same African American man wearing a Marine Corps cap that Knipe testified he saw.
After Christian left the scene, Noonan helped provide medical aid, Noonan said.
“I looked over at Ricky,” Noonan said. “He was gasping for air forcefully. And Tilly (Taliesin) was in shock.”
Noonan said, even then, Best didn’t seem like he was going to survive.
“He was expiring, rapidly, very fast,” Noonan testified. “Waves of his blood were running down the aisle towards me … I knew every time his heart beat he was bleeding to death.”
During cross examination, defense attorney Greg Scholl asked Noonan about his client.
“He didn’t strike you as a rational person did he?” Scholl asked.
“I’m not a psychologist,” Noonan said. “I wouldn’t be able to answer that question accurately.”
“Do you remember telling a detective Mr. Christian wasn’t rational in any way?” Scholl replied.
“I may have said that at some point,” Noonan responded. “But again I’m not a psychologist, so I could be misspeaking.”
Next, prosecutors called Amy Farrara to the stand. Farrara worked downtown at the time of the stabbings. She was taking the MAX Green Line home with her sister-in-law, Jessica Krohn, who also testified Wednesday.
Farrara and Krohn sat in the back of the train, they said.
Farrara captured a short video that was shown to the court. It captured some of Christian’s yelling before the stabbing.
“I stopped recording because I sunk down in the seat because I thought a gun was going to go off,” she said. “I thought something was going to escalate.”
Krohn said she did the same.
“It got to that point where you could just feel it in the air, so to speak, that something was about to happen,” Krohn said. “I expected a gun to come out from somebody.”
Farrara and Krohn said they couldn’t see much from the back of the train, but they thought people were fist fighting.
“I thought that they were punching and fighting and I noticed liquid on the side, the wall of the train,” Farrara said. “I second-guessed, why is there water on the train? Somebody’s water bottle? Then I realized it was blood.”
She continued: “It was like it was dripping or raining. It was a shocking thing to realize it was blood.”
Krohn said she and Farrara had to step over Best, one of the victims, to exit the train.
“We wanted to get off the train, so we had to step over him to get off,” Krohn said tearfully. “Everybody was running off the train and I just wanted to get out.”
The state next called Jason Young, a transit police officer who responded to the call on May 26, 2017.
He said when he heard about the call, it was reported as someone yelling and swearing on the MAX.
Young and his partner were two of the first transit police officers on the scene.
“We got out of the car and basically just ran,” Young said. “When I was going down to the platform, that’s when I started hearing people yelling and screaming.”
He attempted to give aid to one of the victims, Namkai-Meche. Young grabbed Namkai-Meche’s wallet out of his pocket.
“The way he was rolling around; I assumed he was going through a lot of pain,” Young said. “I just wanted to be able to call him by name.”