Jury selection begins this week in the murder case that's at once one of the saddest and most notorious Portland's long history of racial violence.
Nearly 700 people were screened as possible jurors in the trial of Jeremy Christian, who is facing life in prison after allegedly killing two men on a MAX train and wounding a third in 2017. His three alleged victims pushed back at him after Christian spat virulent, anti-Muslim invective at two black teenaged girls on board the train, one of them wearing a hijab.
The trial, which is expected to last for a month, has drawn international attention and spurred new laws aimed at strengthening Oregon's hate crime penalties.
Lawyers for Christian are facing an uphill battle, given that the altercation was recorded by other MAX passengers, and there are multiple witnesses expected to testify.
But they could consider a guilty by reason of insanity plea, sending Christian to the state mental hospital, or—more controversially—they could argue that Christian was acting in self-defense after Micah Fletcher, Ricky Best and Taliesin Namkai-Meche intervened on behalf of the teenagers. Best and Namkai-Meche died in the attack; Fletcher survived and today is half of the hip-hop duo Last of a Dying Breed.
Christian is no longer eligible for the death penalty under a new law that significantly restricts the parameters under which prosecutors in Oregon may seek the death penalty.
Directly after the attack, donations from various funds flooded in from around the globe for those involved, including $150,000 for the two girls who happened to be on the train that day.