Judge Cheryl Albrecht sentenced Jeremy Joseph Christian today to life without the possibility of parole (LWOP). That is the maximum sentence he could have received for the first degree murder charge that he was convicted of. She also tacked on at least 25 years for other charges like intimidation for threatening Shawn Forde with a knife as well as his statements to Walia Mohamed and Destinee Magnum, plus the attempted murder of Micah Fletcher. I've written in length about why I think manslaughter would have been the right verdict in this case and nothing about the sentencing changes my mind about that, so you can check out those articles under the Jeremy Christian tag (https://copblaster.com/hashtag/jeremy-christian/). The focus of this article will be about why Judge Albrecht was wrong to give him as much time as she did even though he was convicted of all those charges because I fear that this case will create some really bad case law for developmentally disabled people in Oregon.
I first met Jeremy Christian at the Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan, Oregon during December of 2013 or January of 2014. He was in a different housing unit but we ended up sitting together in the chow hall during lunch one day. His hair was a little long, but not nearly as long as it was when he was arrested in 2017, so it seemed like he was just starting to grow that Conan the Barbarian thing. He talked about how he had been kicked out of the Northwest Regional Re-Entry Center (NWRRC) and I paid close attention because I was scheduled to go there. Then he seemed to kind of stare off and things seemed a little awkward but I wasn't really sure why. When I did go to NWRRC I learned that what Jeremy said about the place was true, so from the start I have known Jeremy to be a reliable source of information.
When I went back to prison I landed at USP Victorville in California where I was imprisoned until May of 2016. USP Victorville is a high security federal penitentiary. People call is an "active" USP because it is run by active gang members and it is a segregated community where each race is run by gangs exclusive to their races. I am white, so I was part of a group of independent white inmates from the northwest, but the whites as a whole were run by the Aryan Brotherhood. This experience taught me how to recognize real white supremacists. In January of 2017 I launched CopBlaster.com to expose flaws in the criminal injustice system. That prompted probation to violate me hoping that they would be able to get this site taken down, but that failed. Not only did the site stay live while I was in jail despite orders from the judge not to run it as a condition of my confinement, but information that the judge wanted removed could not be taken down because they would not let me out. In June of 2017 a group of Multnomah County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) deputies broke my left arm for threatening to expose them on the site. While my arm was broken the MCSO retaliated against me by putting me in Jeremy Christian's unit and letting Jeremy out of his cell for recreation with me even though I was only in there on a SRV in a minor assault/threat case and he was facing several murder charges. At the time there was a rumor circulating among the deputies that Jeremy was looking to kill inmates. This possible assassination attempt backfired because not only did Jeremy not harm me, we ended up getting along well and when I started hearing him accuse the news of not covering the case accurately I reached out to him, told him what I do, and offered him the opportunity to be heard. He used that opportunity to tell me his side of the story. I was moved out of that unit after about three weeks and shipped to FDC Sheridan. I spent the next year splitting my time between Sheridan and the Columbia County Jail where the United States Marshals house federal detainees with upcoming court dates. Eventually the Columbia County Shierff's Office (CCSO) took the extraordinary step of banning me from their facility by exercising a clause in their contract with the Marshals that allows them to refuse housing an inmate and requires the Marshals to come get him under certain circumstances. The alleged circumstances included behavior that was extremely disruptive to jail administration and allegedly recruiting inmates to engage in similar behavior. As a result I was sent back to the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) for my plea/sentencing phase even though I was scheduled to plead guilty to one count of assaulting a federal officer without inflicting bodily harm by throwing a hand full of spicy chips in the face of Deputy Timothy Barker. My lawyers called it a due process violation because it resulted in a defendant being placed in the custody of alleged victims and witnesses in what was still a pending case, but the Marshals said there was no other facility that would accept me. The MCSO put me in the cell next to Jeremy and kept me there from August of 2018 until November 28th of that year. During that time I really got to know Jeremy Christian well because in addition to being neighbors we were allowed out of our cells together 90% of the time and went to outdoor recreation together for over an hour to play basketball every Wednesday sometime between 3 and 5 in the afternoon. We were not in a normal unit. It was an administrative segregation unit for inmates that they decide to segregate for some reason. I was there because they considered me a security risk to the facility and Jeremy was there because they were afraid he would be attacked by black inmates that think he is a white supremacist. Jeremy did have some issues with some black inmates, but it was always because they came in thinking he was a white supremacist and started issues with him. If they gave him the benefit of the doubt he would reach out to them, treat them with respect, and state that he is not a white supremacist. If he is a white supremacist then he is not like any other I have done time with. Real white supremacists swear an oath to pursue the interests of the white race and never deny being white supremacists in jail. If any of the neo-Nazis I knew in Victorville were to deny being such to their fellow convicts they would be stabbed, beat up, or at least disciplined.
Shortly after being reunited Jeremy showed me a copy of his first psychological evaluation (https://copblaster.com/uploads/files/jeremy-christian-psychological-evaluation.pdf). In that evaluation he was not diagnosed with anything, but the evaluator indicated that he likely suffered from something "on a socialization disorder spectrum" and "exhibits reactions consistent with posttraumatic stress disorder." The first thing I thought of was Asperger's Syndrome also known as high functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It came to mind due to difficulties I have had in my own life. I was diagnosed with high functioning ASD when I was 20 years old and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when I was 21. My history of violent run-ins with the law began when I was 20 years old following the events that caused my PTSD. That is why I stress that although ASD by itself does not make people violent, it does make it much more difficult to manage PTSD symptoms. This can result in intelligent people becoming repeat violent offenders without thinking that being violent is a good idea. I had a much better upbringing than he had and the cause of my PTSD was nowhere near as severe as his. I was a good student and a member of a fraternity at Oregon State University, but because I was different I was severely hazed by my older fraternity brothers both as a pledge and after being initiated. Eventually I had enough, got really drunk, broke a lot of stuff, left the house, and never went back. I went to a therapist that diagnosed me with ASD and that to me explained everything. A couple years later I was arrested after responding to some online harassment from members of the house with some mailings to other Greek organizations that were really embarrassing for the house, and as a result I served 7 days in jail for misdemeanor harassment. I had transferred to Portland State University by then, but had a problem where I was convicted of assaulting a public safety officer (APSO) because after some campus security guards put hands on me during a stop in which I was originally cooperative, I flipped out and started kicking them in the legs. The judge went easy on me by treating what otherwise would have been a felony as misdemeanor and giving me 3 years of probation with no jail time over the objection of the prosecutor despite a statutory minimum of 14 days. Thanks to that judge I was able to keep my financial aid eligibility so that even after my dad cut me off I was able to transfer to the University of Oregon and earn a Business degree. When I graduate I found out the hard way that a lot of employers treat violent misdemeanors worse than non-violent felonies, so I've been either unemployed or underemployed most of my free adult life despite doing really well on intelligence tests. When the government went after the livelihood that I made for myself I became an anti-government activist. Now, back to Jeremy Christian. The trauma that caused his PTSD was being shot in the face by the police, so I can only try to imagine how much worse his flight or fight responses are than mine. I see striking similarities between his state of mind on the Max that day and my state of mind during the police stop at PSU.
I believe that if Jeremy Christian were diagnosed earlier in life that he may not have found himself in the self destructive downward spiral he was in before the stabbing. Ideally he would have learned skills to find and maintain work while considering his diagnosis when evaluating his interactions with others. He may have learned that as a result of his condition he is not bothered by some things that cause emotional distress for people that are Neurotypical (NT). He may have decided that people at the Rally for Free Speech were not just a bunch of idiots flipping out over nothing. He may have realized that sarcastically making a Nazi salute while wearing a Revolutionary War era American flag as a cape and marching with pro-Trump demonstrators would not be viewed by others the way he views it. He views it as him mocking the pro-Trump protesters and the Antifa counter-protesters at the same time. Video supporting his view of it shows him calling the Antifa people "faceless cowards" before turning to the pro-Trumpers and saying "take your mask off Mr. Don't Tread on Me" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKGbyXw11To). More importantly he may have realized that most people would want to react violently if he were to announce his plan for world peace in view of a Muslim girl wearing a hijab when his plan for world peace was:
"You guys want to hear my plan for world peace? If you want world peace, all you have to do is get one billion Christians and one billion Muslims to kill each other, then all the Jews will kill themselves because they will have no one left to manipulate!" - Jeremy Christian
He may have known that a Jew like Micah Fletcher would be likely to be even more offended than a Muslim listening to that. I believe that Micah is Jewish because while testifying I noticed a Star of David ring on his hand. Jeremy is a Nihilist that hates all religions equally, so he didn't fully appreciate how a black Muslim or a Jew would react to what he said. He knew they wouldn't like it, but he didn't realize he would likely be in a physical confrontation as a result. I also don't think he fully appreciated the fact that most people would not take in the entire statement and instead only focus on the anti-Muslim or anti-semitic parts. This type of thinking is also evident when he makes statement in court criticizing people like Demetria Hester with things like "I should have killed you b*tch" that completely overshadows things he said about her that were accurate like "everyone knows that you are a liar!" Most importantly, Jeremy would have learned that because of his dual diagnosis he generally should not consume alcohol and if he does he should not have access to a weapon. I choose not to carry a weapon because I am afraid of ending up like Jeremy.
At his sentencing hearing I was happy to hear him apologize to the family of Ricky Best. He said that Ricky did not deserve to die and that he was just standing in the wrong place. That is consistent with what he told me at MCDC. I recall a conversation in which he described being on auto pilot and stabbing at anything he perceived as a threat. He told me that Ricky Best did nothing other than stand and as a result he felt outnumbered three to one instead of two to one. I was happy to hear Jeremy say that I was right about Walia Mohamed. She was telling the truth on the stand. They say that people like us have a diminished ability to read other people and are not very good at telling if someone else is being genuine. Walia was so genuine that even I could tell that she was telling the truth. I was in court when she testified and my reaction was "Walia seemed like someone that was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and is still trying to figure out what happened and why... I don't think Walia said anything she knew to be untrue just that her memory appears to be playing games with her" (https://copblaster.com/blast/3374/destinee-mangums-testimony-is-not-supported-by-video-evidence). Today Jeremy Christian thanked her for her honesty and said that he proud that she is in America. I believe that statement of his to be genuine.
Judge Cheryl Ablrect did say one thing that I know of that I agree with. She said that she did not think that Jeremy boarded the train with the intent of hurting anyone, but that it escalated to that quickly. I disagree with the last part, I think he intended to antagonize with his speech following being maced the night before and that contributed to how fiery he was. I believe Jeremy when he says that if he wanted to kill Micah Fletcher that he would have and although he could have used better words to describe the others than "collateral damage" that his point really is that he flipped out because Micah Fletcher made him fear for his safety by throwing him on the ground. I still believe that Micah Fletcher had no legal authority to evict Jeremy from the train because Micah in neither a police officer nor an employee of the transit company. I believe that Micah Fletcher's conduct constituted coercion under Oregon law because he was attempting to compel Jeremy to do something he had a legal right not to do by instilling in him a fear that if he failed to do what he wanted him to do that he would suffer physical injury (https://copblaster.com/blast/3385/micah-fletcher-admits-committing-a-felony-against-jeremy-christian). That did not make stabbing him a good decision on Jeremy's part but if the jury were to limit their criteria to just whether or not Fletcher was committing a violent felony against Jeremy and whether or not he acted in defense to that crime he would have been acquitted. Like I've said in the past, jurors are rarely competent to set aside emotion and just look at the law, so it is the job of the judge to make sure questions of law are not vulnerable to being decided by an emotional jury. Unfortunately judges are also human and make human mistakes based on emotion. It is a typical NT trait to not relay on a literal reading of the law or a technical analysis when making decisions. In a lot of ways people with high functioning ASD like myself are far more competent to decide if someone is guilty of or innocent of a crime because I have the ability to ignore certain emotions, just read the law (statutes, case law, etc.), look at just what can be proven, and make a decision based on only those factors. A NT juror on the other hand is more likely to be far too overwhelmed with empathy and disgust over the overall outcome to limit their decision making criteria to just what the law technically says.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of technicalities in the law that grant broad discretion to judges and juries in ways that prevent people from challenge a verdict based on the simple fact that it was emotional. Such laws are typically found in statutes that state what a court usually should do under certain criteria but then ultimately say that they serve only as guides for the judge, but not requirements. Then even stuff that is required does not necessarily preclude a judge from erroneously saying that they don't or that they are basing their decision on something else. Then appellate courts like to find excuses to avoid making unpopular law. A lot of times people have to wait for more sympathetic defendants to find appellate judges that want to uphold the law rather than find excuses not to hear the case or not apply the law. I found this out when I lost a case in the Ninth Circuit challenging a certain release condition that the same court ruled illegal in a different case the following year. The only real difference was that in my case they would have been blamed for denying my opponents the only legal technicality they have ever had to shut me down for any meaningful length of time while in the other case they could create the right law by limiting the circumstances to just a guy that was unable to find any work with the same conditions and not a guy that could not find work under the conditions, but would also resume operations if he won. Then if the court of appeals fails to uphold the law properly or create the right law, the defendant must hope that the Supreme Court chooses to hear the case. The Supreme Court is very selective so they rarely agree to hear a case where the issue is not far reaching or does not resolve a legal disagreement among the circuits. As a results defendants whose constitutional rights are violated must wait years for the Supreme Court to see the problem as being widespread enough to be worth their time.
There is a significant likelihood that even though no reasonable appellate court would conclude that Jeremy Christian did not suffer from a diminished mental capacity or that his cases were erroneously joined, Jeremy Christian is not likely to be able to find a reasonable court that would hear the case and limit their decision making criteria to just the exact wording of statutes and prior case law. They are likely to find excuses not to hear arguments if possible and then exceptions that would allow them to avoid being blamed for being the people that force the victims of Jeremy Christian to suffer through another trial. Even though no statute includes that as valid criteria to deny an appeal, it is an unwritten criteria that leads to the creation of erroneous case law. I fear that the Oregon Court of Appeals, Oregon Supreme Court, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will find excuses to justify not applying diminished capacity to Jeremy Christian. Then the Supreme Court will not touch the case. The end result will be bad law that will deny future developmentally disabled defendants the right to be punished according to their culpable state of mind and not the end results of their acts. I fear that someday I could be setup by some provocateur seeking just to push my buttons enough to make me feel threatened and when I argue that I was defending myself or that things happened too quickly for me to make a rational decision the court will say "too bad, see State v. Christian."