New video showing Jeremy Christian slapping Taliesin Namkai Meche's phone out of his hand is the biggest threat to his defense so far. It shows that nobody touched Jeremy until after he slapped the phone out of Taliesin's hand. He then shoves Micah Fletcher after Micah traveled some distance to get in Jeremy's face. Does this torpedo Jeremy's self defense claim?
No, it does not torpedo the self defense claim, but it does make the argument much more difficult. He would have had a perfect self defense claim otherwise. Micah is seen on tape throwing Jeremy into a seat a couple times and telling him to get off the Max. Had Micah done that in response to just Jeremy's speech I don't think anyone in their right mind would say that Jeremy was not defending himself. Jeremy is now in a bit of a gray area as far as his self defense claim goes. In his defense, Micah escalated the physicality from minor shoving to violently throwing Jeremy into a seat and saying, "get off the Max."
Since Micah is not the police or a Tri-Met employee he has no legal authority to kick anyone off the Max. Jeremy can still say that Micah was being more physically aggressive than he was when he stabbed him. The question now might be, "if you get in someone's face and they shove you, do you have the right to throw him into a seat repeatedly and tell him to leave the train?" I don't think you do. Especially considering the fact that Jeremy appears to have ceased his physicality and was standing his ground yelling at Micah when Micah threw Jeremy into the seat. It appears to me that Micah did more than he had to do or should have done to deal with Jeremy. Jeremy may have physically harassed Taliesin and Micah, but does that give Micah the right to assault Jeremy by throwing him into a chair and coerce him into leaving the Max? Of course not. Jeremy may have crossed the line by criminally harassing Micah with offensive physical contact and Micah shoved him back. Micah should have stopped there. He should not have thrown him into a seat for harassing him.
Taliesin of course never physically assaulted Jeremy. He gave him a slight chest bump and got in his face after Jeremy smashed his phone. The smashing of the phone might be criminal mischief and harassment since he made contact with the phone while Taliesin was holding it, but was Taliesin harassing Jeremy with the phone? Notice how Taliesin went out of his way to get next to Jeremy, reach across the aisle, and invade Jeremy's personal space by holding the phone between Jeremy's face and lap. Jeremy never went out of his way to slap the phone. He just did what he had to do to get it out of his personal space. The worst that can be said about Taliesin after that is that he was part of a group that outnumbered Jeremy in a fight, but Taliesin can't be blamed for Micah throwing Jeremy into the seat. He certainly did not deserve to be killed for filming Jeremy and getting in his face. At the same time Taliesin's presence made the situation a three on one fight.
I am not a lawyer, but I am a close student of the law. I think that Jeremy still has a valid self defense argument with regards to the charges listing Micah as the victim. The deaths of Taliesin and Ricky Best appear to be the result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time when Micah assaulted Jeremy. It kind of reminds me of a couple times in college when I ended up at a bar or a party with a couple of buddies and one of them would get into a fight. They were part of a group that anyone in Jeremy's position would feel threatened by, but at the same time a reasonable person could conclude that Jeremy was not defending himself from Taliesin and Ricky Best. At no point do I see Ricky Best do anything other than stand with Taliesin and Micah. This is where Jeremy's diminished capacity comes in. Jeremy acted on instinct and automatically neutralized all perceived threats before his mind had the time to process what was going on. Jeremy has Asperger's Syndrome and PTSD. I have the same diagnosis and I know what it is like to react defensively in confrontations like that. You don't have time to ask your self anything. You just start swinging at everything you perceive as a threat until you don't feel threatened by them anymore. That is why this case should be charged as manslaughter because Jeremy did not have required state of mind to justify murder charges.
Oregon Revised Statute 163.118 "Manslaughter in the first degree (1) Criminal homicide constitutes manslaughter in the first degree when: (b) It is committed intentionally by a defendant under the influence of extreme emotional disturbance as provided in ORS 163.135 (Extreme emotional disturbance as affirmative defense to murder), which constitutes a mitigating circumstance reducing the homicide that would otherwise be murder to manslaughter in the first degree and need not be proved in any prosecution;"