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Portland Stabbing: Man Convicted Of Murder, Hate Crimes In 2017 Attack

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

On Friday, a jury in Portland, Ore., convicted a man of murder and hate crimes stemming from a brutal 2017 attack on a light rail train. As Oregon Public Broadcasting's Conrad Wilson reports, prosecutors used the attacker's own social media postings to show that he was motivated by white supremacist ideology.

CONRAD WILSON, BYLINE: On May 26, 2017, Jeremy Christian got on a Portland light rail train. Christian, who's white, began a racist rant directed at two black teens, one who was wearing a hijab. People on the train intervened. There was shouting and shoving as passengers tried to get Christian off the train. Christian responded by stabbing three men. Two of them died.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHERYL ALBRECHT: Assault in the first degree - the verdict is guilty.

WILSON: After a month-long trial and nearly two full days of deliberations, Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Albrecht read the jury's verdict. Christian was convicted on all 12 charges. Family members of the victims in the courtroom gasped when the verdict was read.

Christian did not seem to react to the verdict announcement at all. Throughout the trial, Christian's attorneys argued he was acting in self-defense. Prosecutors showed jurors surveillance and cellphone footage of the stabbings, and they sought to tie Christian to white supremacist ideology through his social media postings.

After the verdict, some of the victims and their families spoke outside the Multnomah County Courthouse in downtown Portland. They expressed a sense of relief and gratitude.

Dyjuana Hudson is the mother of one of the teens who was targeted by Christian on the train, which jurors said was a hate crime.

DYJUANA HUDSON: It's been very emotional, very hard for them. Just glad to see that I can go home and tell them that it's OK now.

WILSON: Jurors also convicted Christian of charges stemming from the day before the stabbings when he assaulted Demetria Hester, who's black, and made a similar racist diatribe. Hester says the jury's verdict sends a message.

DEMETRIA HESTER: It let people like Jeremy Joseph Christian know that you're not going to get away with it, that we do have people that care about all of us because black lives do matter. And the people that were killed - they did that out of love and protection.

WILSON: Christian faces the possibility of life in prison without parole.

For NPR News, I'm Conrad Wilson in Portland. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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