Defense attorneys for accused MAX train killer Jeremy Christian don’t want jurors to walk by the family members of the men who died when he goes to trial next summer.
They filed 51 motions on proposed rules for the trial, but the 500 pages offer little insight into Christian’s possible defense against charges that he fatally stabbed two men and seriously injured another.
Among the more unusual requests is the one asking Multnomah County Circuit Judge Cheryl Albrecht to order that jurors not be allowed to walk down the hall past the families or friends of Ricky Best and Talisein Namkai-Meche.
“This may cause the jurors to feel sympathy for the victim’s family in the event they should see some of the family crying or upset,” wrote attorneys Dean Smith and Gregory Scholl.
Smith and Scholl repeatedly wrote in the documents that jurors must reach a verdict based on the facts, not sympathy for the dead men.
The motions show the challenges Christian faces in a case bolstered by videos of the scene and eyewitnesses who say Christian was berating two African-American teenagers when fellow passengers stepped in. One of the girls was wearing a hijab.
The May 2017 killings of Best and Namkai-Meche and the near death of a third— Micah Fletcher — generated public outrage across the country.
Christian could face the death penalty if a jury finds him guilty of aggravated murder. His lawyers are trying to do all they can to rein in emotion and keep juror “outrage,” as they phrase it, to a minimum.
In another unconventional request, the attorneys have asked the judge to prohibit the Best and Namkai-Meche families from testifying during the first phase of the trial to determine Christian’s guilt and — if Christian is found guilty — the second phase to determine if he should be sentenced to death.
In a more common request, Christian’s attorneys have asked that prosecutors be prevented from showing jurors any graphic photos.
Christian’s attorneys haven’t yet notified the court of any intention of presenting an insanity defense. Experts not associated with the case say it could be tough to prove Christian was so mentally ill he wasn’t aware of what he was doing.
But among all the motions, his defense team did provide one hint of another possible defense: that Christian made a spur-of-the-moment decision based on his background and time previously spent in prison.
In a previous report filed with the court, a defense-hired psychologist wrote that Christian shows signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and it’s possible that when confronted by so many others on the MAX train, his “survival responses” kicked in, developed over the 7 1⁄2 years he spent in prison for robbing a convenience store.