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Jury selection, defense strategy: What to expect during the Jeremy Christian trial

KGW is working with three experts to analyze what we should expect in the coming weeks as Jeremy Christian, the man accused in the MAX stabbings, goes to trial.

Maggie Vespa

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Jury selection begins this week in the double murder trial of Jeremy Christian, a Portland man accused of boarding a crowded MAX train in May, 2017 and aiming a racist, hate-filled rant at two black teenage girls, one of whom was wearing a hijab.

He’s then accused of stabbing three men who intervened or stood nearby.

Two of the men, Ricky Best and Taliesin Namkai-Meche, died. The third, Micah Fletcher, was gravely wounded but survived.

Christian faces a long list of charges, including two counts of first-degree murder and one of attempted murder.

Christian has admitted to carrying out the stabbings, but has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, and according to a psychological evaluation requested by his attorneys, he claims he was on “auto-pilot” during the incident and “feared a physical attack” by the men.

In the years since, his attorneys fought successfully to eliminate the possibility of Christian being sentenced to death, by getting his two murder counts reduced from "aggravated" to "first-degree."

They also moved to have the case relocated out of Multnomah County, arguing that local press coverage would thwart Christian’s chances of receiving a fair trial. Judge Cheryl Albrecht denied that request, and the case will remain in Portland.

Opening statements are expected to begin Tuesday, Jan. 28.

In preparation for what’s expected to be a month-long trial, KGW has acquired the help of three local attorneys, retired and practicing, to offer expert analysis on arguments, motions and decisions made.

None of these analysts have worked on the Christian case, nor have they communicated with anyone involved in it.